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Dragon Viewed as Suitable Emblem for China
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A report suggesting the dragon is no longer a suitable Chinese symbol has aroused strong objections since Monday.

A report claimed Professor Wu Youfu, Deputy President of the Shanghai Public Relations Association, said the dragon is seen as a symbol of violence and aggression in some Western cultures. A bias from westerners knowing little about China's culture may lead to a negative effect on the country, according to the report.

However, Professor Wu Youfu refuted the report as untrue and emphasized that the dragon as a Chinese symbol should be maintained.

In a survey conducted by, the portal website of China, 90% of 100,000 Internet users firmly believed that the dragon should remain a Chinese icon.
"Dragons in Western countries and in China are different. They shouldn't be mixed," Pang Jin, the director of China Research Center on Dragon and Phoenix Culture, said in an interview.

"The dragon in western countries is a combination of several small animals. It mainly represents evil and is usually seen as a symbol of arbitrariness and offensiveness. However, dragons in China are supernatural animals that are always good without aggression. What's more, the dragon in Western culture enjoys a low cultural rank, but in China, it is a spiritual and cultural symbol representing prosperity and good luck for about 70,000 to 80,000 years," Pang added.

Some experts also have suggested changing the English translation of dragon to "Loong."

"To some extend, the misunderstanding of the dragon is because of the translation. The Dragon in western society is an animal people try to get rid of. I think the person who initially translated the Chinese "loong" to "dragon" didn't understand it that much, so it's still used up until now," said Professor Guan Shijie from Peking University.

Regarding east meeting west, Pang Jin said, "The world is a diverse one. It doesn't have only one culture. We shouldn't use one standard to judge all others."

However, it seems that the misunderstanding as to the nature of dragons works both ways. While in classical Western mythology, the dragon was occasionally a figure of evil such as that protecting the 'Golden Fleece' in Greek lore or the beast slain by St. George, the dragon has also often been hailed a symbol of bravery and of courage.

Celtic tales speak of the fierce battle between two dragons, one of them blood red representing the Celts, one white representing the invading Saxons. The two battled in the skies until the white dragon chased the red one away to the west. This has been seen as an image of the Saxons forcing the Celts westwards into Wales, Cornwall and across Ireland and Scotland. Although the story may just be legend, the emblem of the Red Dragon adorns the Welsh flag to this day.

(, December 5, 2006)

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