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Valentine's Day with a Chinese twist

Other than red roses and a candlelit dinner for two on Valentine's Day, nothing in Beijing says 'I love you' (vaguely, in Chinese) like an investment offering an annual return of 5.2 percent.

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A couple takes a photograph with a mobile phone in front of a red heart decoration on Valentine's Day in Wuhan, Hubei province, Tuesday, Feb. 14.

Reuters

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You don’t need a lover to get something out of Valentine’s Day in China.

Even the lonesome can drop into the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank today and sign up for an investment product offering an annual return of 5.20 percent, which in Chinese sounds (sort of) like “I love you percent.”

But in a country that has latched on fast to the commercial opportunities presented by Western festivities such as Christmas or Valentine’s Day, the bank’s initiative is only one of the more innovative ways in which young romantics are relieved of their cash on Feb. 14.

Red roses are as popular here as they are in the US, and their price on the streets of Beijing this morning reflects that: a single bloom could cost you 20 RMB (upwards of $3.00), almost 10 times the regular price.

Candlelit dinners for two, meanwhile, are all the rage at the capital’s fancy international hotels; supermarkets have set aside shelving piled high with chocolates, cakes, flowers and wine; cinemas all over the city this week are screening a new romantic comedy, “I Do” released to coincide with Valentine’s Day, and online stores such as Taobao are promoting special offers on electric shavers, necklaces, watches and perfume.

When you type “Valentine’s Day” into Baidu, the biggest Chinese search engine, 90 percent of the results are advertisements.

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