By Esta Chappell, eChinacities.com 

One of the most important and auspicious years in the Chinese calendar: the Year of the Dragon. This year the unexpected was predicted, and true to form there were many strange and downright odd news items that came out of China. A look back on 2012 reveals drama, (bad) luck, enterprise and surprise. Here’s our round up of the year’s top 10 weird stories:
 
1) Ferocious stamps (January 2012)
As unpredictable as the mythical animal itself, the stamp issued by the Chinese postal service commemorating the Year of the Dragon was not well received. Deemed too scary, ferocious and “incomparably ugly” by critics, the dragon drawing was a far cry from the previous cutesy wide-eyed bunny of 2011. The designer argued, however, that the revered dragon should “never be rendered a mere cartoon”.

 

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By Anthony James, Staff Writer

An interesting number popped up in October in the news: 6 billion. That’s the approximate number of cell phones in use right now in world according to the International Telecommunications Union. In China, the reported number of mobile phone subscribers is around one billion; which is of no surprise for a nation in which a majority of the middle class (about 85%) own a handset. But what is noteworthy for mobilecompanies and retailers all over the world looking to sell phones in Asia is the entrance of a new cell phone buyer: China’s migrant workers.

With millions of workers flooding the industrial epicenters from rural areas, Chinese migrants have played a dual role in the past by both providing cheap labor to support the middle class and remaining out of the limelight. With the advent of mobile accessibility,the Chinese might be experiencing a tech revolution. Where access to the internet and social media was previously unavailable, one might see a construction or factory workercarrying a cell phone and a smartphone.

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By Kent Clark, China Correspondent

As countless books, Web sites, and blogs will tell you, China has a long and storied past that goes back some 5,000 years.  They will also tell you one of China’s defining characteristics is the multitude of traditions its people have developed, and many of those traditions are still prevalent today.    To wit, specially engraved chops were around in the times of emperors as a way to notarize official documents.  Chops still play an important role in day to day business and government operations, although they have morphed into plastic stamps.  (I am really bummed that our company is forced to use boring plastic stamps.  I want to have my company stamp be made of bronze and sculpted into a snarling dragon.  When you push its tail, it could even breathe fire.  Or Pez.) 

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By Kent Clark, China Correspondent

The first week in May annually marks the Chinese equivalent of America’s Labor Day (劳动节).  The first Chinese Labor Day I spent in China was in 2005.  As a study abroad student at that time, some classmates and I traveled to western Sichuan province to mingle with locals in the Himalayan mountain region.  Fast forward seven years, and I was back in Sichuan province with my wife and her family for a cousin’s wedding.   

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By Greg Hugh, Staff Writer

The fifth session of the 11th tenure of the China National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliament, concluded on Mar. 14 in Beijing, after determining important national issues.  As usual, it was a highly choreographed show of legislative rubber stamping but there appears to be a real political drama unfolding behind the scenes as noted by many media sources that covered the event.

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