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Year of Dragon: Long may the long reign in China

(Xinhua)

12:53, January 23, 2012

BEIJING - China basked in festivity on Sunday as red lanterns and firecrackers ushered in the Year of the Dragon, a legendary animal of the Chinese zodiac considered the sign of divine bless with fortune and dynamism.

When the bells chimed heralding the start of the Chinese lunar New Year on January 23, Zhu Shiming and Xiao Xiao prayed for a "Dragon Baby" to join their family in the following 12 months.

The couple in the northern port city of Tianjin tied the knot last May and now hope to join the exclusive club of new parents in the Year of the Dragon, when Chinese population experts are expecting a baby boom.

Despite the lack of statistics, a baby boom in the Year of the Dragon has become something of a sure thing as lots of young couples reportedly prepare to have a baby like Zhu and his wife, leading to the surge of charges for maternity nanny services in cities like Tianjin and Beijing.

A large number of Chinese proverbs and phrases include references to the dragon, and "wang-zi-cheng-long" may interpret how important a Dragon Baby might mean to a family.

The idiom means "hoping that the child will become a dragon," and with the hopes that the child will have as much success, money and be as powerful as the mythological mascot.

Year of Hope amid Global Downturn

Chinese people use 12 animal signs in a mathematical cycle for their zodiac system, each for a year. The previous Year of the Dragon was 2000, which ushered in the new millennium.

In the first decade of the 21st century, China witnessed breathtaking, non-stop fast track development that catapulted the country to number two in the world's economic league table.

However, amid global downturns since the financial crisis in 2008, China has to find a way out for sustained growth while it tries to cool down an overheated economy in an effort to rein in inflation.

China's economy grew 8.9 percent year-on-year last quarter, below the 9-percent mark for the first time since mid-2009. Full-year growth of the gross domestic product slowed to 9.2 percent in 2011 from 10.4 percent in the previous year.

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