Year of Dragon: Long May The Long Reign In China


China enters the Year of the Dragon, signifying divine bliss, fortune and dynamism.


China basked in festivity on Sunday as red lanterns and firecrackers ushered in the Year of the Dragon, a legendary animal of the Chinese zodiac considered the sign of divine bless with fortune and dynamism.

When the bells chimed heralding the start of the Chinese lunar New Year on January 23, Zhu Shiming and Xiao Xiao prayed for a “Dragon Baby” to join their family in the following 12 months.


The couple in the northern port city of Tianjin tied the knot last May and now hope to join the exclusive club of new parents in the Year of the Dragon, when Chinese population experts are expecting a baby boom.

Despite the lack of statistics, a baby boom in the Year of the Dragon has become something of a sure thing as lots of young couples reportedly prepare to have a baby like Zhu and his wife, leading to the surge of charges for maternity nanny services in cities like Tianjin and Beijing.

A large number of Chinese proverbs and phrases include references to the dragon, and “wang-zi-cheng-long” may interpret how important a Dragon Baby might mean to a family.

The idiom means “hoping that the child will become a dragon,” and with the hopes that the child will have as much success, money and be as powerful as the mythological mascot.

Year of Hope amid Global Downturn

Chinese people use 12 animal signs in a mathematical cycle for their zodiac system, each for a year. The previous Year of the Dragon was 2000, which ushered in the new millennium.

In the first decade of the 21st century, China witnessed breathtaking, non-stop fast track development that catapulted the country to number two in the world’s economic league table.

However, amid global downturns since the financial crisis in 2008, China has to find a way out for sustained growth while it tries to cool down an overheated economy in an effort to rein in inflation.

China’s economy grew 8.9 percent year-on-year last quarter, below the 9-percent mark for the first time since mid-2009. Full-year growth of the gross domestic product slowed to 9.2 percent in 2011 from 10.4 percent in the previous year.

he annual growth was well above the government’s expectation of eight percent, and the slowdown can be attributed mostly to the government’s macro-control levers.

However, some businesses, especially small enterprises, have felt the bite of the slowdown.

A construction project contractor in Tianjin, Yang Tingjiu, is hoping the Year of the Dragon will bring him more business opportunities after he endured two years of business slump.

The man also saw his investment in stocks shrink over the past years, and is wishing for a rally of the stock market after the Year of the Dragon has begun.

Chinese stocks have suffered continuous drops over the past years, with the key benchmark index at the Shanghai exchange down from the peak 6,000-plus points in October 2007 to just more than 2,200 points nowadays.

As a token of good luck, the Year of the Dragon is considered especially crucial for China’s development in the next ten years amid prophesies of an economic “hardlanding,” a plunge in annual growth to 5 percent or less, as has been defined by some economists.

In his speech addressed at a gathering to celebrate the Spring Festival, or the Chinese lunar new year, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Saturday that China has made a good start to the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) at a time of an austere and complicated international economic situation, but “We are going to face bigger challenges in the new year.”

Wen said the government will maintain stable prices and steady, rapid economic development, accelerate the transformation of development patterns and adjust the economic structure in a bid to enhance sustainable development.

“We have the will, determination, courage and ability to overcome any difficulties,” Wen said.

More Than Economic Concerns

On the eve of the Spring Festival, President Hu Jintao visited grassroots urban and rural areas in Beijing, extending greetings to the people.

Hu went to the small village Tianxianyu near the Great Wall in Beijing’s northern mountainous area, where he joined villagers asking about their livelihood and watching a dragon dance to welcome the New Year.

In a similar action that is regarded as the central authorities’ concern for the people, Premier Wen went to an oilfield in northwestern Gansu Province on Saturday.

Festivity also surrounded Wukan, a village in the southern province of Guangdong which came into international spotlight for protests that lasted more than three months against illegal land requisition and corruptions in village financing and elections.

The turbulence since September receded at the end of last year after a senior provincial official vowed, in a rare high-profile dialogue with protesters, to address the villagers’ complaints and launch a probe.

Zhu Mingguo, vice secretary of the Guangdong Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, said that most of the villagers’ appeals and complaints were reasonable.

Provincial investigators later announced that there were violations in the village’s land requisition and the village committee election in February 2011 was invalid.

Now people in Wukan said their New Year wish is a smooth village committee election slated after the Spring Festival holidays.

“We hope the new committee can solve the land problems soon and completely,” said a villager, Zhang Yi.

Wukan has been taken as an example about how the government should respond to the public’s concerns and outcries as some places in the country are troubled by protests over land requisitions, pollution concerns and other problems amid rapid urbanization and industrialization.

Actually, social stability has been on the government’s top agenda as it endeavors to let all the people share the fruit of the country’s economic development.

At a provincial legislators’ session earlier this month, Wang Yang, Guangdong’s Party chief, warned that the biggest challenge faced by Guangdong is not economic but social problems.

Premier Wen also underscored the improvement of people’s livelihoods, democracy, equity and justice in his speech at Saturday’s gathering.


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