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Official Calls for Improving Students' Handwriting

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An education official has called for efforts to improve Chinese students' handwriting as calligraphy, a widely practiced skill and revered art, is losing its popularity due to the use of modern techniques such as typewriting.

Wang Dengfeng, director of the language application management department under the Ministry of Education (MOE), said on Saturday the move was to make young people learn basic calligraphy skills and inherit the traditional art.

"Handwriting is a way of culture inheriting, that's why we feel obliged to urge every student practice handwriting," he said.

As part of the government's efforts to promote calligraphy, the ministry kicked off a national handwriting competition on January 20.

Both Chinese students, including those from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and international students are eligible to the competition.

Applicants will be divided into three age groups on the basis of whether they are from primary school, secondary school or college.

Candidates will use pen or Chinese brushes to compete in three Chinese calligraphy styles including kaishu (regular script), xingshu (semi-cursive script) and lishu(clerical script).

Students can apply for the competition via the official website before March 31.

The competition is scheduled to end in August after three rounds of tests.

"The competition is to help young people rediscover the structural beauty of Chinese characters and the profound culture therewith," said Wang.

(Xinhua News Agency January 26, 2009)