The 6th Ordos Peony Tourism and Culture Festival in Kangbashi, Ordos, North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, May 19, 2017. (Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn)
The peony has gained overwhelming support in an online vote to be chosen as China's national flower. The final result of the poll, initiated by the China Flower Association, will be unveiled on Friday.
The five days of voting began on Monday, and Dong Yan, an official from the association, revealed that the peony has collected more than 90 percent of the votes to date among 10 options.
According to the association, China is among the few countries without an official national flower, and the selection of one contributes to the celebration of New China's 70th birthday.
"We are stepping into the new era and the country is witnessing social prosperity," Dong said. "People also have better living conditions. It is time to have an official national flower that can represent our state image and the nation's spirit."
According to the association, China's national flower should meet four standards: It should originate in China and have a long history in many regions; it should be beautiful in shape and color, to represent the Chinese culture and personality; it should have a profound historical culture and be widely known to the public; and it should be extensively used in many fields with a competitive ecological and economic value that could benefit the public.
Based on suggestions from an expert team, the association listed 10 candidates: the peony, wintersweet, chrysanthemum, orchid, camellia, lotus, sweet-scented osmanthus, Chinese rose, azalea and narcissus.
The peony was also recommended by the association as the national flower. It has a 4,000-year history in China and is widely planted around the country. With bright colors and an elegant image, the peony carries the meaning of auspiciousness and is called 'king of the flowers' in China.
"The peony was the national flower in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Apart from ornamental value, it also has been used as a food and a traditional Chinese herb, for which it has strong economic value," Dong said. "It is widely known by Chinese people. Even my 10-year-old son and his classmates in primary school have voted for it."
By Wednesday afternoon, nearly 600,000 people had joined in the discussion on WeChat, with about 470,000 agreeing that the national flower should be only one certain flower.
Among several colors being considered, the red peony has gained the greatest support from the public with nearly 30,000 votes on Sina Weibo, followed by white and yellow.
Many netizens said they didn't realize that China has no national flower. In fact, many people said they had already accepted the peony as the national flower years before they saw the vote.
"Since childhood, we've learned many ancient Chinese poems praising the peony as the 'beauty of the state' and its image has been deeply marked in our minds," said a netizen named Brother Hally. "Also, the peony's large flower and gorgeous color fully express our country's image."