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China Final of Miss Universe to Be Held in Hometown of Confucius
The final contest to choose who will be the image of China at the 2003 Miss Universe beauty pageant will be held in Jinan, the capital of eastern China's Shandong Province and the hometown of Confucius on April 18-19.

Li Deming, director of the organizing committee of the China final, told a conference that this is the first time for the country to officially host such a nationwide contest for the pageant.

Miss Universe is one of the three world-class beauty contests along with Miss World and Miss International.

The contest organizing committee yearly chooses a different country or region to host the beauty pageant. The annual event has been held during the past consecutive 50 years with participants from 151 countries and regions.

Panama will host the Miss Universe contest this year while celebrating its centennial.

"The Miss Universe contest isn't about the prize but is very important for showing a female image of a country or a region," said Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe organizing headquarters who made a special trip to China in January.

She believed that the contest will play an important role in enhancing cultural exchanges between China and the rest of the world.

After contests at all levels are held between March 10 to 28, the general final for China, including Hong Kong and Macao, will ring down the curtain on April 19 in Confucius's hometown.

Confucius (551 B.C.- 479 B.C.) is regarded as a great thinker and educator in Chinese history. Confucianism has had a tremendous influence on China's political, cultural and social environment for thousands of years.

(Xinhua News Agency February 5, 2003)

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