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Tuesday, 1 February 2011

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China rabbit-crazy for Lunar New Year

CHINA: In stews, as pets or adorning shop windows, rabbits are ubiquitous as millions of Chinese mark the Lunar New Year, hoping for a more tranquil time ahead as the old Year of the Tiger roars its last. The nation’s 1.3 billion inhabitants will welcome the Year of the Rabbit on the night of February 2-3 in a hugely important family event marked by feasts and a blaze of fireworks.

Occupying the fourth position in the Chinese zodiac, the rabbit is closely linked to the moon and symbolises happiness and good fortune.

Many — including brokerages — are banking on the calm and sensitive rabbit to usher in a calm 12 months after the tiger brought a spate of deadly natural disasters to China such as earthquakes and mudslides. CLSA, a brokerage and investment group, predicted in its latest “Feng Shui Index” that the rabbit would have a positive influence on stock markets.

“A reputedly placid, personable and prescient white rabbit will wrest the reins from the decidedly unpleasant and erratic tiger that’s been tossing and turning the markets over the past 12 months,” it said.

The bunnies in a video cartoon that went viral recently on the Chinese Internet were anything but tranquil. Their revolt against brutal tiger overlords — a thinly veiled swipe at China’s communist rulers — was a huge hit before the video was yanked by online censors.

And while some attribute calming qualities to the rabbit, it may not be such a good year for the animal itself in China.

Restaurants around the country are offering rabbit delicacies as part of their lavish New Year banquets, and animal rights group PETA has urged actress Gong Li to stop wearing rabbit fur. People are also rushing to buy bunnies as pets, sparking concern among animal rights activists that the cuddly creatures could suffer from neglect or be abandoned once the novelty has worn off.

Beijing, Monday, AFP

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