Chinese government officials should wipe shark fin off their reception menus before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing to help impress foreign visitors with a favorable national image, a lawmaker said on Tuesday.
"Serving shark fin to foreign guests during the Olympic Games could greatly hurt China's national image, and officials should start to remove the dish from the dining table right now," said Xu Zhihong, a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature.
Xu, president of the prestigious Beijing University, said that shark fin is quite often a must on local governments' reception menu.
Restaurants should also scrape other wildlife, such as snakes, from their menu during the Games, otherwise it could easily irritate foreign visitors, in particular, animal rights activists, Xu told Xinhua on the sidelines of the NPC's annual full session.
"It is not only an environmental issue, but one that has a direct bearing on the image of Chinese people," the lawmaker said.
(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2007)