After years of wrangling, a decision is finally about to be made naming China's national tree, flower and bird.
"The China Forestry Association will present a list of candidates and a detailed plan on how to collect people's opinions soon," said Yin Faquan, the association's deputy secretary-general, in a telephone interview.
Possible nominees for the national tree accolade are the pine, cypress, poplar, willow, which are found around the world, and some that are unique to China, such as the gingko and metasequoia.
A range of beautiful blooms are competing for the title of national flower, with contenders including peony, plum blossom, orchid, lotus and chrysanthemum. All have featured down the years in Chinese art and literature, in particular the exquisite peony.
If the peony is chosen it will not be for the first time. The Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) government in 1903 named it China's national flower, while the blossom of the plum tree was granted the title in 1929 by the then government. Elections for the national tree and flower were held in the 1980s and 1994, but both ended in stalemate.
With public opinion so divided over which tree and flower should be given the title, some experts suggested following the example of countries such as France, Japan and Thailand and select two of each.
No contest to chose a national bird has been held in China before, although some members of the National People's Congress once submitted a motion nominating the rare red-crowned crane.
As a symbol of longevity and respect, there are 1,000 red-crowned cranes in China, while their total numbers across the world are no more than 1,500, mostly in East Asia.
(China Daily May 15, 2003)