The Sparrow Wins Internet Vote for National Bird of China

By Shi Yu
Epoch Times Staff
Created: September 9, 2008 Last Updated: September 9, 2008
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The survey to select the national bird of China has sparked a heated discussion. Some Chinese netizens railed against the State Forestry Administration’s decision to list the red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis) as a candidate, and have instead chosen the sparrow as their choice for the national bird.

According to the Modern Express newspaper, in 2004 the State Forestry Administration and China Wildlife Protection Association launched a public poll on more than twenty Chinese media websites, and the red-crowned crane won an overwhelming 60 percent of votes.

However, an official decision was not made because the scientific name of the red-crowned crane in Chinese is the “Japanese” crane, and Chinese people have an anti-Japanese sentiment.

The State Forestry Administration submitted their proposal to the State Council on August 23. This has struck a heated debate again over the red-crowned crane, and China’s State Council has yet to approve the proposal due to strong pressure.

China’s most popular forum,, recently launched an online survey of its own to select the national bird. Out of ten birds, the sparrow won with 35.8 percent of the votes whereas the red-crowned crane only received 8.6 percent.

A great number of Chinese netizens thought that although the sparrow has a simple and plain look, it is a strong and stubborn living creature that is hard to extinguish, making it a better representative of the Chinese spirit.

One Chinese blogger posted, “We do not necessarily need to choose the kind of birds that look noble and beautiful. We shouldn’t limit our criteria to outward appearance. In fact, what is inside is more important when it comes to choosing the national bird.”

Many people think that sparrows are different. They are very much like the Chinese people with extremely strong vitality, and therefore are hard to extinguish.

There were many voters against the sparrows as well since it is often eaten by people.

One blogger commented, “During the Great Leap Forward, sparrows were considered to be one of the four harmful animals. If the sparrow is to become the national bird, what should farmers do when sparrows eat their crops? Should they or shouldn’t they kill the bird? What if they do indeed kill the bird?”

Compared to the red-crowned crane, the sparrow is not eye-catching, and also has a negative image. Why did Chinese netizens choose the sparrow as the national bird?

Mr. Zhang Jielian, an expert on China issues said, “We could say that sparrows have deep grassroots in China’s society, but, in fact, choosing the sparrow has more accurately reflected what’s on people’s mind. This is their way of messing with and mocking the Chinese communist regime.”

One Epoch Times website reader posted, “There are a lot of sparrows, and they are the lower class that is constantly eaten up by others. Aren’t they very much like the Chinese people nowadays? Didn’t the city administration officials always try to sweep the poor street peddlers off the street, just like they drive the sparrows away?”

Another Epoch Times reader wrote, “Sparrows carry a lot of meaning. Firstly, the Chinese have a saying, ‘despite it’s tiny body size, a sparrow is equipped with the five organs.’

“Among the five organs, the heart is the first one, and is the one many Chinese lack or have problems with. For instance, that conscienceless CCTV is even worse than the sparrow.

“Secondly, there is a huge population of sparrows which symbolizes the population of Chinese people. The Chinese communist regime chases and kill their own people just like they chase and kill sparrows—they do it without a blink of the eye. Isn’t this ‘profound’ enough?

“Thirdly, making the sparrow the national bird is so meaningful. Even if the Chinese communist regime does not acknowledge it, hundreds of thousands of Chinese people will definitely consider this plain-looking, tiny bird the national bird of China. They will have a special feeling toward sparrows because they share such a similar fate.”



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