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China's 'Crane Town' embraces Olympic flame
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The Olympic torch kicks off its relay in Qiqihar, Heilongjiang Province, at 8:10 on Sunday morning, July 13, 2008. [Photo: beijing2008.cn]

The Olympic torch relay in Qiqihar, the last leg of the torch tour in China's northernmost Heilongjiang province, starts on Sunday morning.

Liu Yan, winner at the 2008 National Grand Prix Figure Skating, ran the first leg of the relay, starting from the Municipal Public Square in Qiqihar, which is well-known for red-crowned cranes.

With vast wetlands in the Zhalong Nature Reserve, which is the main propagating place for national protection animal red-crowned cranes, Qiqihar, a major city in the northeast of China, is commended as "crane town".

Located in one of the three major black soil zones of the world, Qiqihar is endowed with superior conditions to develop ecological agriculture and green food industry.

Qiqihar, one of the important industrial bases in China, is honored as "Steel Machinery City" as well.

The city, with lots of renowned large metallurgic,forging, refining and heavy equipment manufacturing enterprises, plays a crucial role in Heilongjiang's economic development and the rejuvenation of old industrial bases.

The flame finished its journey in Qiqihar at 9:53 on sunday morning.

The relay in Qiqihar ranged 7.5 kilometers with 208 torchbearers. The last leg was run by Fu Tianyu, an international champion in short track speedskating.

On Monday morning the Olympic torch will continue its journey at Changchun, capital city of northeast China's Jilin Province.

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