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Chinese mom buys front-page ad in desperate bid to see son over holidays

Chinese Melbourne Daily

A front-page advertisement placed by a Chinese mother in the Chinese Melbourne Daily.

BEIJING -- Just how far would a mother go to ensure her son came home for the holidays?

One Chinese man in Melbourne, Australia, is learning the hard way after his mother printed "Letter to My Son" on the front-page of a Chinese-language newspaper.

The unnamed woman took out the full-page ad begging her son to come home for the Spring Festival this month. She even promised him that she would not give him her usual mother-son harassment about getting married.

"I’ve called you several times, but you don’t pick up. Perhaps this was the only way to get you to read my message?" begins the letter. "Dad and Mom will not pressure you to get married ever again. Please come back for Chinese New Year this year, Love Mom.”

An employee for the Chinese Melbourne Daily declined to comment on the identity of the mother, but confirmed to NBC News that the letter was real and that it had been printed on its cover on Jan. 14. An interview in Want China Times revealed that the mother lived in Guangzhou and that the son had been working in Melbourne since graduating from college there. 

Chinese media quickly picked up on the letter and the small Australian paper with a circulation of around 15,000 has been inundated with calls for more details.

The son has gained many sympathetic supporters online in China. They have been quick to express their own frustrations about intrusive questions on relationships and jobs that come with trips home during the New Year. 

"It seems that being single is a crime," complained one user on China’s twitter-like service, Weibo. "Why can’t parents learn to respect their children’s choices?"

"The mom must be rich! Does she need another son?" joked another.

Popular reaction to the letter harks back to a similar incident in 2011. Chinese tech company Tencent placed an ad in the lead up to the Spring Festival about the frustration, loneliness and love that China’s youth now associate with going home for their New Year on Jan. 31.

The great annual Chinese New Year migration has already begun, with state media predicting people will make 1.62 billion trips by plane, train, car and boat over the next 40 days.

NBC News’ Chenyue Zhu contributed to this report.