For the first time in 300 years, the renowned Shaolin Temple held a ritual on Thursday to initiate 600 believers into monkhood. On that same day, millions of monks and believers nationwide observed the Buddha bath festival which usually includes the washing of all statues of the Buddha. The ceremony used to be considered an official ritual to recognize a believer into true monkhood. Shi Yongxin, leader of Shaolin Temple and vice- president of the Buddhist Association of China, said that Buddhism in China has embarked on a "golden era" of development with a rapidly increasing number of believers. According to Shi, China has about 100 million registered religious believers, most of whom are Buddhists and Taoists. "They form an indispensable force to construct a harmonious society," he said. Shi said the ritual was suspended for 300 years because the altar where the ritual was held was destroyed. The 26-meter-high three-storey alter was restored last year at the temple, located in Dengfeng, Central China's Henan Province. The 600 Buddhists were selected out of 1,000 pious Buddhists nationwide. Shi said that only Buddhists who have passed a long-term inspection and are believed to have a "pre-destined lot" with Buddhism will be allowed to take the ritual and admitted by the temple. "Only Buddhists who practice Buddhism to a high level can be tonsured and allowed to take the ritual," Shi said. The ritual will last 28 days during which time the 600 monks will listen to doctrines, learn Buddhism rituals and manners in the temple. Both Buddhism and Taoism seem to be attractting more believers. An international forum on the "Daode Jing", a classic of Taoism, was held last month and lured 300 Taoists from around the world who wanted to explore the true essence of the classic text.
There is perhaps no better time to savor the charm of Tian'anmen Square than during the week-long National Day holiday.Two girls pose with small national flags on Tian'anmen Square September 30, 2007, the eve of the week-long National Day holiday. [Xinhua] Stretching in front of the Forbidden City, it is ablaze with the color of 400,000 pots of flowers in full bloom.This year's major events can be seen at the city's center. Looking east are scale models of the Acropolis in Athens, the Great Wall, and a 9.8-meter Olympic torch, which represents the torch relay from Greece to China.To the south can be seen models of the Temple of Heaven and major scenes marking key events in the history of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to welcome the 17th National Congress of the CPC which starts on October 15.A big fountain sprouts water as high as 60 meters in the middle of the square surrounded by a bed of flowers."The square is always the best place to experience the festive atmosphere of the National Day," Deng Chuanmei, 48, a visitor from Jiangsu Province, said.Wei Liqing, a Beijing resident, said she has taken photos and videos at the square every National Day holiday since 1992. "I want to record the pace and growth of our country," she said.Work on the decorations and flower displays started about 25 days ago, and was carried out at night to avoid disrupting tourists and traffic, Zhou Jianping, an official with the Beijing gardening and forestation bureau, said.He said this year's decorations include 130 kinds of flowers, of which more than 20 will also be on display during the next year's Olympic Games. If weather permits, the flowers will be shown until the end of the month.The national flag raising ceremony will also be a major attraction. At dawn today, an estimated 200,000 people will gather at Tian'anmen Square to watch the event.The capital's tourism administration bureau has predicted that about 1.7 million people will visit the capital during the seven-day holiday.
A plan to rebuild part of the Yuanmingyuan (the old Summer Palace) Park has met with mixed public response.The park's management office said it is planning to rebuild a palace gate before the end of this year.Zong Tianliang, spokesman for the office, said the project will take a year to complete and will be "a loyal copy of the original gate".But many fear construction of the gate might destroy some the historic remains.Yuanmingyuan is regarded as a symbol to remind Chinese people of the shameful history of the 19th century when China was bullied by Western countries.What visitors see in the park today is mostly the ruins left from a fire that the British and French troops set after plundering countless treasures from the royal garden in 1860.More than half of the 2,300 netizens who responded to a poll on sina.com on Monday were against the rebuilding project.About 54 percent agreed that rebuilding the gate would destroy some historical relics, and protecting what "remains is the best solution"."Yuanmingyuan as it stands today is the best material for patriotic education. Rebuilding will not only cost money, but also probably make people forget part of history," a netizen said.However, 44 percent agreed it was necessary to restore the exquisite imperial garden to its former glory, described as a masterpiece in Chinese classical garden art.Researchers said the Yuanmingyuan, a general name for three royal gardens built and expanded in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), used to cover nearly 350 hectares and consisted of 100 buildings of different styles, including European and southern China."Rebuilding part of the garden and showing visitors the comparison can also educate people," another netizen said.Zong said the rebuilding is part of the Yuanmingyuan Ruins Planning project, which was approved by the municipal government and the State Administration of Cultural Heritage in 2000.The planning agreed to rebuild no more than 10 percent of the original royal garden.Currently the park has only three rebuilt structures - a European-style maze, a pavilion and the palace gate of Qichunyuan.Some experts have said that a rebuilt Yuanmingyuan would still be incomplete without all its lost treasures. A bronze horse head looted from the garden was recently sold for .84 million and returned to China.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao delivers a keynote speech at a national meeting to honor 355 Chinese counties and cities as models in the work of "Shuangyong," in Beiing, on Jan. 4, 2008. Wen called for greater efforts to be made in the area of unity between the army and the government and between the army and the people. [Xinhua]Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Friday called for greater efforts to be made in the area of unity between the army and the government and between the army and the people.He issued the call at a national meeting to honor 355 Chinese counties and cities as models in the work of "Shuangyong.""Shuangyong" is a word used to convey the concept of mutual support, namely that "the government and the people support the military and give preferential treatment to the families of servicemen and martyrs, and the military supports the government and cherishes the people."Wen said: "It is of extreme importance to consolidate the solidarity between the military and the government and between the military and the people." He noted that doing so would safeguard the country's economic and social development and the building of a modernized armed force.Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao presents awards to representatives during a national meeting to honor 355 Chinese counties and cities as models in the work of "Shuangyong," in Beiing, on Jan. 4, 2008. [Xinhua]Wen said that "shuangyong" had long been a good tradition and a unique political advantage for the Party, army and people.It is an irrefutable truth that "so long as the army and people are united as one, they can defeat any enemy," the premier said.Wen asked Party organizations and governments at all levels to put this work high on their agenda, strengthen guidance at grassroots levels, and incorporate the concept of "putting people first" into practice.
NANJING: Jiangsu province will constantly focus on environmental protection while maintaining strong momentum in economic development in the next five years, acting governor Luo Zhijun said in his work report to the first session of the 11th provincial people's congress on Friday.The province witnessed fast economic growth in the past five years with gross domestic product (GDP) increasing at an annual average rate of 14.5 percent, one of the highest rates in the country, official figures showed.However, such economic development has had a negative impact on the environment, Luo said.Workers try to clean a major moat of algae in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, last July. A massive algae bloom spread out last summer in several of the country's large lakes, including Taihu lake in Jiangsu and Dianchi lake in Yunnan province. [China Daily] Last May, more than 1 million residents in the city of Wuxi suffered water shortages when a large-scale, blue-green algae outbreak hit Lake Taihu, one of the city's main sources of drinking water.The algae comprise microscopic organisms that are naturally present in waters. They grow easily in polluted waters and can starve the water of oxygen, killing aquatic life.The water quality of the lake has improved, but the incident was seen to have sent a signal to local government that the economy should not grow at the expense of the environment."We've learned a lesson from the incident, that environmental protection should take precedence over GDP growth," said Mao Xiaoping, mayor of Wuxi and deputy to the provincial congress.The provincial government will allocate more than 2 billion yuan (7 million) to clean up Taihu lake this year, Luo said in his report.Over the past five years, the provincial government has made strenuous efforts to protect the environment while speeding up economic development, Luo saidAll over the province, 2,713 small chemical factories, one of the main sources of pollution, have been ordered to close, while many other heavy polluting enterprises have been urged to upgrade their environmental protection facilities to be up to standards, Luo said.Similarly, 75 sewage treatment plants have been built in the cities with a daily disposal capacity of 3.78 million tons of wastewater, he said."We will continue to encourage technology renovation and push forward industrial restructuring in the next five years," said Luo.The authorities will also support research of technologies to improve water and air quality, Luo said.At the same time, the province will promote the use of energy-saving devices and recycling, he said.Measures are being taken to ensure that no new projects will be approved before they meet all requirements for environmental protection, Luo added.To that effect, the metallurgy, chemical, building materials, electrical power and textile industries will all be under close supervision, he said.
BEIJING -- Thirty-one provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities on the Chinese mainland had reshuffled local Party committees through internal elections for Party officials within a year ending last June.Moreover, 408 cities, 2,763 counties and 34,976 townships have elected new Party committee leadership from early 2006 to April this year, the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee said here Thursday.This has made good preparation for the upcoming 17th CPC National Congress.The positions in the new Party committees at the provincial, regional and municipal levels were reduced by 21 compared with previous ones. The positions were cut by 149 at the city level, by 859 at the county level, and by 34,368 at the township level.Meanwhile, the local Party leaders are younger and well educated, particularly at the provincial level. The age of leaders in CPC provincial committees average 52.9 years old, half a year younger than their predecessors, and 91.6 percent of them received college education, 14 percentage points higher than before.The CPC Central Committee has taken a series of measures to make the election in local Party leadership fair and clean, the department said.In 296 townships of 16 provincial-level regions across China, leaders of Party committees were directly voted by CPC members as pilot projects.The ratio between the candidates and the elected officials reached 100:89 in the election at the provincial level and 100:88 to 100:85 at the county-level.The candidates also received strict scrutiny from the Party discipline departments to ensure they are clean from corruption or scandals.A hot line was set to receive tip-off about malpractice and corrupt candidates during the local Party leadership reshuffle.Thus far, 260 officials have been punished for malpractice.
Walking up on a dais in traditional Chinese dress to receive your baccalaureate degree. Well, that can become a reality if a Peking University design contest throws up something novel and exciting enough to replace the Western-style gown, which till now have been worn by students. The prestigious seat of higher learning, long known for its tradition of innovation, launched the academic-gown designing contest on Thursday. The criterion: the costume has to be traditionally Chinese. The top design could become a must at the university's graduation ceremony in the not-so-distant future, according to the university's Communist Youth League committee, which is in charge of students' activities. "If the gown proves a success, we could introduce it in other universities, too," committee director Han Liu said. The contestants, students and teachers both, have been asked to submit their gown and cap designs before June 8. After the preliminary eliminations, the selected costumes will be displayed at this year's graduation ceremony on July 3. "It's an innovation because students in all Chinese colleges today use the same Western-style gown," said Lu Peng, another committee official. "It's also part of our campaign to promote culture and tradition on campus." Colleges students used to wear different types of gowns at the graduation ceremony till the State Council's Academic Degrees Committee promoted a standard one, the Western-style gown, in 1994. The degrees committee, however, told China Daily on Friday that it was not compulsory for all colleges to use the same gown. Scholars and students have been asking if Chinese people should wear traditional clothes on important occasions, such as graduation ceremonies. "Why should Chinese students wear Western gowns while receiving their degrees?" Sui Yue said. Sui is a sophomore and president of Peking University's Costume and Culture Association for Communication, a students' association that's helping organize the contest. The contest is open to all traditional Chinese clothes, she said, but "hanfu", the pre-17th century traditional dress of the Han Chinese, the majority ethnic group of China, has the edge because of its popularity among students. Wide sleeves, crossed collar-bands, layered robes and a fabric belt are the striking features of the hanfu. The contest reflects the revival of traditional Chinese culture, Li Zhisheng, a professor of history at Peking University, said.
BRUSSELS - Javier Solana, European Union top diplomat, expressed here on Thursday his concern over Taiwanese leaders' comments on the Chinese province's application for UN membership."I have noted with concern the comments made by Taiwan's leadership on October 24 concerning Taiwan's application for UN membership under the name of Taiwan," Solana said in a statement."The EU has a substantial interest in peace and stability in East Asia. It has a particular interest in the continued prosperity and security of Taiwan and in the maintenance of peaceful relations across the Taiwan Strait," he said. The fundamental position of the EU is that the Taiwan question must be solved peacefully through cross-Strait negotiations between all concerned parties."We have concerns about the current policy of Taiwan's authorities to pursue a referendum on the question of UN membership in the name of Taiwan," Solana said, adding "This concern flows from the EU's conviction that both sides of the Strait should refrain from statements or actions which might raise tension across the Strait and which might be perceived as a unilateral change in the status quo."The proposed referendum would risk making it harder for Taiwan to enjoy the pragmatic participation in the activities of specialized multilateral fora, "when there are clear public interests for this and when statehood is not required." he said"I therefore want to encourage both sides to take further initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue, practical cooperation and confidence-building," he concluded.
China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU), the cradle of diplomats, set up a new school on Friday - the College of Diplomacy and International Relations - with former foreign minister Li Zhaoxing as the dean. Meeting students at a ceremony marking his appointment, Li highlighted the key criteria for a diplomat.Li Zhaoxing (Right), former foreign minister, receives a certificate naming him the dean of the College of Diplomacy and International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University on Friday from Wu Jianmin, university president. [Xinhua] "The most important is love for your country. This is my deepest feeling during my career at the foreign ministry," said Li."I hope graduates from this college can better serve our country, our people and contribute to peace and development around the world," he added.Li, a diplomat for nearly 40 years, retired this spring. He was appointed foreign minister in 2003, and was Chinese ambassador to the United States from 1998 to 2001.Some students said they like Li's animated style and are excited to have him as the dean."He is very friendly," said Wang Lei, a third-year student majoring in diplomacy.CFAU President Wu Jianmin said the establishment of the school reflects "a golden era" for China's diplomacy."China's diplomacy has entered a golden era, and it is in this context that the college has been set up," said Wu, who was formerly ambassador to France."Never have we seen such a big stage for us, never have people expected so much of us, and never has the world looked at China with such a high hope," he added.CFAU, established in 1955, is affiliated to the Foreign Ministry, and specializes in training international affairs experts and diplomats.
SYDNEY - Chinese President Hu Jintao met here Saturday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to exchange views on bilateral ties, the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsular and other issues of common concern.The meeting took place on the sidelines of the 15th Economic Leaders Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Both China and Japan are APEC members.All-round Sino-Japanese ties currently maintain a sound momentum of improvement and development, which are widely welcomed by both peoples and the international community, Hu said."Sino-Japanese ties are now at a crucial juncture," Hu said, "we should maintain such a sound trend, and push forward the healthy and steady development of bilateral ties."This year marks the 35th anniversary of the normalization of Sino-Japanese ties. Over the next few months, the two countries will host various activities of friendly exchange, Hu said, hoping that the two sides will cooperate and support each other to make these activities a success, in order to enhance the mutual understanding and friendship of both peoples."We welcome Prime Minister Abe to visit China again this year, and hope both sides will make good preparations to ensure the visit achieve positive results," Hu told Abe.Abe echoed Hu's remarks on bilateral ties, saying bilateral cooperation has made progress in various areas.Bilateral exchanges and cooperation in defense matters have made positive progress, which are of great significance, Abe added.Japan attaches great importance to maintaining high-level contacts with China and is looking forward to conducting more contacts with Chinese leaders this year, Abe said.Japan is ready to work with China to push forward bilateral ties, Abe added.The Chinese president arrived here from Canberra Wednesday to attend the annual APEC Economic Leaders Meeting. He has also paid a state visit to Australia.