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Internet Envelops Sale of Cards

The popularity of sending New Year cards by post to extend good wishes has taken a dive - as the Internet envelops the market.

Increasing numbers of young people - who used to be the main purchasers of paper cards - now prefer to e-mail their wishes.

"I think electronic cards on the Net are more vivid and attractive with music and active images," said Xia Ning, a student of Shanghai International Studies University.

Moreover, electronic cards are quicker, more convenient and money-saving than traditional ones, she added.

Meng Wei, a student of Peking Union University, said he stopped sending paper cards, based ultimately on trees cut down, because the practice is not environmentally friendly.

"I learnt this from television and radio campaigns," he said.

Jiang Lian, with the centre for environmental education and communications of the State Environmental Protection Administration, was pleased less people send paper cards.

She said the drop in demand for New Year cards can be helpful in the protection of forests.

"We welcome such a trend among students, who are the main consumers of New Year cards, to use other ways to send New Year greetings, such as electronic cards," she said.

This trend is making the sale of cards less profitable. Card sellers in Shanghai's Yuyuan Garden admitted cards are not selling well this year.

However, there are some who remain interested in paper cards.

For example, Xu Yanyang, a student in Xi'an Foreign Languages University, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, who said paper cards are of collection value.

"Such a feeling of receiving a card is marvelous, and will be more precious as time goes by - the cards I send to my friends can preserve my handwriting and I can also see my friends' handwriting on the cards I receive," he said.

And many companies still consider paper cards a better choice when they send New Year greetings to their business partners.

"Paper cards look more formal than electronic ones," said Yao Bin with the Beijing-based Links-group Marketing Co Ltd. She added that electronic cards might also contain viruses.

However, Yao admitted if it is for personal use, she would prefer sending electronic cards.

As the demand for paper cards shrinks, card sellers are trying to boost profits with new ideas.

A local newspaper in Taiyuan, capital of North China's Shanxi Province, reported there are now many cards with images of frightening monsters in the market.

"Such cards sell extremely well among students," according to a seller.

However, parents and experts showed their opposition to the new style card, saying they have a negative effect on the mental health of students, the report said.

Sales of such cards have been banned in Beijing, according to a seller in the Wantong Wholesale Market in Beijing.

(China Daily December 22, 2001)

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