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Youth Find Virtual New Year Greetings Convenient, Fun

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Zheng Xiaoyan and her friends exchanged new year's greetings, games and even electronic fireworks during the Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, through a Beijing-based online community they created.

"I felt distanced from my family and friends in Hainan Province before the community was built," said 25-year-old Zheng, who is working for Seven-Eleven and was not able to go home for the festival.

Young people gather at the virtual community to share New Year's pictures, take lantern riddle quizzes, participate in online temple fairs and chat.

"Another good thing about the virtual community is that I could use it whenever I've got time. It saves me from feeling lonely," Zheng said.

Others, like 20-year-old Liu Jinwei, managed to send out new year's greetings to relatives and friends while playing Internet games.

Liu said he used his mobile phone to send text messages to wish his friends happy new year in the past, but that it took him a lot of time. "It could be very distracting if you are trying to score on the Internet games at the same time."

This year, the problem was solved with new programs provided by the computer game manufacturers that allow the players to send text messages online while playing.

Many Chinese Web sites and e-mail operators began to support DIY electronic greeting cards. High school student Wang Lehong sent out about 100 such cards to his teachers and classmates for the Lunar New Year, and received about 50 cards in return.

"I like the idea because I could add some personal tint into the greetings I am sending out," said Wang. "It is also a good way to keep in touch with my friends who are studying overseas."

He said people did not need to be very good at computer technology to make an electronic card, because the software was simple and direct.

In addition to Internet, the 3G (3rd Generational) mobile phones also provide people with a good way to send visual messages to send new year's greetings.

"It allowed my parents to see me and talk to me on the Lunar New Year's eve, even if I was not by their side," said 22-year-old Yuan Jin, who is working for an IT company in Shanghai.

She said she plans to send out more such messages to her friends to show off the new clothes she had bought for the festival.

Mobile phone service companies also increased the novel ways of sending out messages to greet the new year.

"I surprised my husband by sending him a message containing firework sound and my recorded voice of good wishes," said Emma, a female netizen who ran a popular blog on, a major portal in China.

(Xinhua News Agency January 29, 2009)

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