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China offers novel solution to the seven-year itch

Postal authorities in the Chinese capital Beijing have come up with a novel solution to a soaring divorce rate -- love letters sent with a seven-year delay.

The new service allows couples in the first flush of romance to post a letter their partner will only receive seven years later, the China Daily reported on Tuesday, saying that was when relationships often began to cool.

Divorce is becoming increasingly common in China. In Beijing, the divorce rate has risen from 11,582 in 2004 to 21,013 last year, according to government data.

Special envelopes containing a card for a personalised message went on sale in Beijing on September 9 -- considered auspicious because the words "nine nine" in Chinese sound similar to the word "forever".

Couples who marry in one of the capital's 17 registration offices will also receive one of the envelopes.

"We hope the love letters may save some marriages in the future," a postal official surnamed Ma told the Global Times daily.

But some people were less enthusiastic about the plan.

"It'd be more than depressing if I received a love letter from seven years ago and I was no longer with my then-loved one," Tsinghua University graduate Sun Lubin told the China Daily.

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