Dragon debate stirs public's imagination
By Wu Jiao (China Daily)
A Shanghai professor's alleged suggestion that the dragon should no longer symbolize China has aroused strong objections from the public.
"Westerners see the dragon as a symbol of arbitrariness and offensiveness. It may lead people who know little about Chinese culture to have a negative impression of the country," Wu Youfu, Party secretary with the Shanghai International Studies University, was quoted by Shanghai media as saying last week.
Though Wu said last week that the report was untrue, it has still stirred heated debate.
Ninety per cent of the 100,000 people who responded to a survey on sina.com, the most popular Chinese Internet portal, said the dragon is a traditional Chinese icon and should continue to represent the country.
Experts say that Chinese conceptions of the dragon are different than Western ones.
"In Western countries, dragons are a combination of several small animals. They mainly represent evil and are usually seen as a symbol of arbitrariness and aggression," said Pang Jin, director of the China Research Centre on Dragon and Phoenix Culture.
"However, dragons in China are supernatural animals that are always good and not aggressive," Pang added.
"The world has diverse cultures. We shouldn't use one standard to judge all others," said Pang.
Some experts have also suggested that China should do more to promote Chinese dragons through more effective trans-cultural communication.
"If the ogre Shrek can become a famous and beloved image in the United States, I think our country could also do something, like making movies, to demonstrate the Chinese understanding of dragons around the world," said Yu Guomin, professor of the Journalism School of Renmin University.
"This is a multi-cultural, global community, and we have to take into consideration how people respond to our culture. Over-emphasizing our own culture will hardly lead to harmonious co-existence," said Yu.