China media: Lunar New Year

The Spring Festival is one of the most important occasions in China Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Spring Festival is one of the most important occasions in China

Papers advise people to celebrate the New Year responsibly, and consider environmental issues before setting off firecrackers.

The Lunar New Year, also known as The Spring Festival, is one of the most important occasions in China. It will be celebrated on Thursday.

Several newspapers have urged people not to set off fireworks because air quality is expected to worsen in the coming days.

Setting off fireworks is a custom to ward off evil and welcome good luck during the festival.

However, China's persistent air pollution problem has sparked debate in the media about the choice between preserving the custom or the environment.

The China Daily points out that more people are now foregoing fireworks to minimise air pollution.

"The voices against fireworks have caused some city authorities in the country to put a ban on setting off fireworks or to designate special areas for them. The latter is a good compromise between those who are for and against fireworks," it says.

Echoing similar views, the Beijing News hopes that people will make an informed choice and not use fireworks for celebrations.

"We wish that people will not be hindered by cultural reasons and play a part or make some sacrifices to improve the air quality," it urges.

Reports say such calls appear to have made some impact. According to the Beijing Youth Daily, the sale of fireworks has sharply declined despite shops and online portals offering 50% discounts.

"The people in Beijing now have strong awareness about the environment. Sale wasn't good last year, so I decided to cut down on the stock this year," a shop owner tells the paper.

Gifts from Xi

Meanwhile President Xi Jinping has given his New Year greeting, state media report.

Mr Xi delivered his New Year speech in Xi'an, the capital of north-western Shaanxi province. He also interacted with local communities and defence personnel during the visit.

"I came here to see everybody. The Spring Festival is approaching, I wish you a happy New Year in advance. I have learned that you live in a good community. I wish you a happy life. I wish every family, every child, everyone all the best," the China Central Television quotes him as saying.

A front-page commentary in the overseas edition of the People's Daily praises Mr Xi for "being rooted among the people".

The article highlights that Mr Xi also gave New Year goodies, including dumpling ingredients, rice and paintings, to the locals, noting "all these were paid out of his own pocket".

"The success and determination of our central leaders have amazed the world. Mr Xi's important speeches have gained huge support from the officials and the public," concludes the article.    

'Mind your manners'

And finally, papers are reminding Chinese tourists who are travelling overseas during the holiday period to "mind their manners".

According to the China Daily, 5.19 million Chinese are expected to travel abroad during the festive season, which is about 10% more than last year.

The "rowdy behaviour" of some Chinese tourists has "raised eyebrows" in local and international media outlets in recent years, prompting Chinese authorities to remind tourists to "behave properly" when travelling abroad.

The Xinhua News Agency notes that only a handful of Chinese travellers account for such bad behaviour.

"However, for the world's largest outbound travel market, even one in a million is enough to cause concern," it says, adding that the travellers' etiquette "has not caught up to their newfound wealth".

A commentary in the China Net states that the country has a "civilisation dating back to 5000 years ago" and the Chinese tourists are the representatives of this ancient civilisation.

The People's Daily online portal, however, turns its focus on the unwelcome actions of a few foreign tourists in China.

The widely circulated post lists the "uncivilised behaviour" of some Westerners, including peeing on the Great Wall of China, and urges Chinese people "not to learn from them".

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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