'Scary' dragon stamp sparks row
A stamp designed to mark China's forthcoming Year of the Dragon has been criticised for its fang-bearing monster.
As the stamp went on sale, it drew the heavy crowds that normally flock to buy the annual Lunar New Year stamps - but the dragon's attacking pose has led some people to call it too ferocious.
Zhang Yihe, a renowned Chinese writer, wrote on her Sina Weibo microblog that she was "scared to death" when she first saw the red and yellow creature with scales and claws.
Another writer, Tan Xudong, called it an "incomparably ugly dragon-year stamp".
Its designer, Chen Shaohua, said he had received criticism, abuse and support for the stamp, brought out ahead of the Chinese New Year, which begins on January 23.
Mr Chen has defended his design, saying that the dragon should be interpreted as a symbol of China's rising confidence.
"As a large country which has major influence in the world, China is ushering in the restoration of national confidence," he wrote on his blog.
"From sternness and divinity, to a representation of China's self-confidence, a dragon which is tough, powerful, stern and confident is an appropriate choice," he wrote.
Mythical legend claims that Chinese people are descended from the dragon, and many believe it is an auspicious symbol.