Stamp-collecting Growing Popular Across Country

Stamp-collecting in China has grown increasingly popular in recent years, with the number of collectors reaching 18 million, said Luo Shuzhen, president of the All-China Philatelic Federation, Tuesday in Beijing.

Addressing the federation's fifth national congress which opened Tuesday, Luo said the growing hobby has "promoted the expansion of China's postal service and contributed to socialist, cultural and ethical progress." The three-day quadrennial conference, attended by more than 300 representatives and officials from the Ministry of Culture and State Postal Bureau, will end with a plan to advance stamp collecting even more, Luo said.

Extending his congratulations to the congress, Tian Jiyun, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and honorary president of the All-China Philatelic Federation, said he expects the federation will popularize the hobby nationwide.

Founded in January 1982, the federation has 4.21 million members and encompasses 44,959 local stamp-collection associations, according to federation sources.

Kund Mohr, president of the Federation of International Philately, said in a letter to the congress that he believes Chinese enthusiasts will greatly contribute to world stamp-collecting in the years to come.

Last August, China hosted the 1999 World Philatelic Exhibition. The top prize - the Grand Prix National Award - was awarded to Chinese contestant Shen Zhenghua for his collection "East China People's Post."

While officials pledge to reinforce their efforts in promoting stamp-collection in China, some experts propose that e-commerce should be introduced to further tap the market potential. China's stamp market has a smaller transaction volume compared to those in developed countries.

Post offices should launch professional stamp websites and sell stamps and stamp-collection merchandise on-line, collectors told the China Philately News.

On-line sales would reduce costs and revitalize sluggish stamp markets in remote regions, said Xu Dongli, a stamp expert in Beijing.

People's Daily Online ---