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Cherry industry states claim to home origins

By Pan Mengqi | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-10 11:20
[Photo/Xinhua]

Cherry blossom is now in full bloom in many areas of China.

It is also a major attraction in Japan, where it is known as sakura and has become a national icon. However, it is claimed that the cherry tree and its blossom originated in China.

He Zongru, chairman of the China Cherry Industry Association, an NGO committed to developing the country's cherry blossom-related business, said few Chinese know this.

According to the association, the cherry tree is believed to have originated in China's Himalayan region.

"China has a 2,000-year history of cherry blossoms in royal gardens. In the Tang Dynasty (618-907), these delicate flowers prevailed thanks to private gardeners," He said.

"But what is a pity is that cherry blossom has brought enormous tourism income to countries such as Japan and the Republic of Korea, but in China the economy has yet to see the full benefit of it."

Last year, the cherry blossom season in Japan, from March to May, attracted nearly 5 million people and boosted the economy by about $2.7 billion, according to Bloomberg. China is the biggest source of tourists for the Japanese cherry blossom season.

Data from the Japan Tourism Agency show that 8.38 million tourists from the Chinese mainland traveled to Japan last year, representing year-on-year growth of 13.9 percent and contributing nearly 27 percent of international arrivals.

In recent years, cherry blossom's popularity has encouraged more Chinese to plant the trees at home. Local governments and industry advocates are promoting such planting in the hope of making blossom-filled parks a global attraction.

According to the association, more than 25 Chinese cities have parks where cherry trees predominate, and the number is expected to rise rapidly.

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