SHANGHAI - Wearing her favourite black dress, 53-year-old Liu Fenqin sat nervously in a corner at an official match-making event in Shanghai, hoping to find a husband after her first marriage ended in divorce more than 10 years earlier.
With China's divorce rate rising, Liu was one of thousands of middle-aged and senior lonely hearts who took part in the annual event sponsored by the Shanghai government after the upper age limit was raised from 45 to 60 this year.
"I'm looking for someone not too ugly," Liu said as she glanced around at the participants, many of whom were also too shy to mix and mingle.
She wanted to find a second husband when she was younger but her daughter did not want her to, she said, so she put her love life on hold.
The event, which drew 30,000 people last year, attracted an estimated 40,000 this year after organizers lifted the age limit to satisfy demand from the growing number of divorcees, said Xu Tianli, vice chairman of the Shanghai Matchmaking Agency Management Association.
With some people there in their 60s and even 70s, the age limit was not absolute.
"If anyone has earnest love and marriage needs then we will do our best to help them out," Xu said.
Divorce rates in China have climbed for seven years in a row. In 2012, the year-on-year rise in divorces outpaced that of marriages for the first time, according to official data.
The Chinese city with the highest divorce rate is Beijing, at 39 per cent, according to local media. About half of US marriages end in divorce, while the figure for Britain is 42 per cent.