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Chengdu Wants the World to Get Inspired About Pandas
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The capital of Sichuan Province launched a panda-themed art program, and some talented people will win one million yuan (US$120,000).

The panda, a rare white and black bear-like mammal found in the mountains of China, will be the star of this event. Logos, personal stories, novels, fairy tales, cartoons, e-games, and films are all welcome for submission. No limits are imposed on the form of the creations.

A total of one million yuan will be spread out among all the winning authors and artists as gift money, according to sources from the Chengdu Municipal Association for External Culture Exchange.

Launched by the Chengdu municipal government and undertaken by the Chengdu Daily Newspaper Group, the program, which ends at the end of the year, is aimed at promoting the city's image, said Yin Jianhua, deputy chief of the Chengdu municipal office in charge of the cultural endeavor.

Chengdu, which is home to more than 80 per cent of the world's panda population, is the only metropolis in the world with a panda breeding and research center.

There are 48 pandas living at the center, and the city's panda habitat is 642 square kilometers. If one wants to see some pandas, Chengdu is the place to go. This has been the consensus of many foreign visitors.

The panda is a representative of the city. Through global promotion of the animal, Chengdu wants to call for the protection of the endangered species and let the world know more about it and the city, Yin said.

Hailed as a living fossil, the panda has been around for three million years. Many animals of its era have long perished.

Due to human activities and change in the natural environment, the pandas' habitat has been greatly reduced, and the animals have been on the verge of extinction. There are only about 1,000 left in the world.

Since Chengdu launched the program on June 29, it has received several dozen submissions from around the world, according to the Chengdu Municipal Association for External Culture Exchange.

An expert panel will review and assess all works, and those that demonstrate the special culture surrounding the panda and the city's spirit will receive a money award, the association said.

The association welcomes submissions from China and abroad to contribute to the program.

Its phone number is 028-86757336, and the email address to send contributions is panda_chengdu@yahoo.com.cn.

(China Daily July 10, 2006)


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