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"Do as Chinese Do When You're in China for the Spring Festival"

Russian girl Katusha, 19, experienced an exciting week in Beijing during the China's Lunar New Year celebration.

Starting February 12, when the Year of the Horse galloped in, she tasted various Chinese snacks, visited the Forbidden City and Great Wall, and took pictures wearing Chinese-style jackets.

Katusha is not the only foreign merrymaker here to "do as Chinese do when you're in China" during this age-old celebration.

The capital city has reported a surge of overseas tourist arrivals in the last few weeks. More than 13,000 tourists from abroad arrived here on February 9 alone. Compared with last year, the figure was more than triple in the three days prior to Spring Festival, February 12. Apart from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, visitors came from European countries and Russia.

While the Chinese embrace Western cultural elements to celebrate the traditional holiday, foreigners here enjoy all Chinese things. They dress in Chinese-style jackets, which have become popular since the APEC leaders in Shanghai adopted them as informal wear.

Meanwhile, foreigners put up paper-cuts and the character "fu", or "happiness", on windows and doors where they are living. Dumplings have become their favorite food, and they even learned to say "Xinnian hao", or "Happy new year", in Chinese.

About eight out of the 40,000 foreigners who live in Beijing stay here to celebrate the Chinese New Year, according to statistics from the capital's Public Security Bureau.

Yvonne, a French girl working for a foreign-funded company here, said she likes the temple fairs best.

As traditional cultural events featuring all kinds of Chinese folk art, temple fairs are held every year around Spring Festival and attract thousands of visitors from both at home and abroad.

She said, "I really enjoy the feeling of dialog with Beijing's history when attending a temple fair."

In addition, Western-style restaurants were in a holiday mood, with traditional costumes for servers, and red tassels and lanterns for diners to enjoy. Paper-cuts have been put up in Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald's, and Motorola and Coca Cola have launched new advertisements making reference to the Lunar New Year.

(Xinhua News Agency February 18, 2002)

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