Luckily for my cartooning career, the good people of China overwhelmingly voiced support on behalf of the dragon!BEIJING, Dec. 12 A Shanghai professor's alleged suggestion that the dragon should no longer symbolize China has aroused strong objections from the public. "Westerners see the dragon as a symbol of arbitrariness and offensiveness. It may lead people who know little about Chinese culture to have a negative impression of the country," Wu Youfu, Party secretary with the Shanghai International Studies University, was quoted by Shanghai media as saying last week. Experts say that Chinese conceptions of the dragon are different than Western ones. "In Western countries, dragons are a combination of several small animals. They mainly represent evil and are usually seen as a symbol of arbitrariness and aggression," said Pang Jin, director of the China Research Center on Dragon and Phoenix Culture. "However, dragons in China are supernatural animals that are always good and not aggressive," Pang added. by Zhang Heng, a Chinese philosopher. The instrument was a large (2 meters or 6.5 feet in diameter) bronze jar, with a central pendulum inside. Decorating the jar on the outside were a series of dragon heads connected to a pendulum, each with a ball in a hinged mouth. Directly beneath each dragon head, on the surface of the stand, was a bronze toad, head up, mouth open to receive a ball from the dragon's mouth. During an earthquake, the ground motion would move the pendulum and cause one or more balls to fall from a dragon's mouth into a toad's mouth. The direction of the earthquake was indicated by which of the dragon heads had dropped a ball. The dragon is earthquakes. It is the subterranean forces that overwhelms attempts at creating order. Taming or understanding the dragon is most important. This is what court etiquette was all about. This is why the dragon of destruction and disorder was carved into the thrones of China and the cycle of about 500 years of rise and fall of imperial rule simply makes this very clear: the dragon can be confined only at great effort of will of the rulers and if they slip, the dragon emerges and creates chaos and destruction! Which brings us to the whole business of the dragon and the phoenix:The phoenix is a mythical bird which consumed itself by fire every 500 years and a new young phoenix sprang from its ashes. Legend has it that the phoenix lands on nothing but the greatest treasures. It is the highestranked bird in China and represents beauty, good luck, the Empress, female energy, and the southern direction. The dragon, a legendary reptilian monster, is deified in the Taoist religion and was the national emblem of the Chinese Empire. Among the Chinese people, the dragon is traditionally regarded as a symbol of creativity and good fortune, and represents the Emperor, male energy and the eastern direction. The combination of phoenix and dragon is similar to that of a yin/yang, symbolizing the union of opposites.