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Last Updated: Monday, 23 August, 2004, 08:28 GMT 09:28 UK
Flower marathon for Beijing Olympics
China is trying to breed hundreds of new varieties of flowers that will bloom in the hot, humid months when Beijing hosts the 2008 Olympic Games.

Few domestic species can blossom during the extreme summer conditions.

Five million pots of the new flowers are to be planted in the city over the next two years, to see if they have the required Olympic staying power.

Beijing is already undergoing extensive renovation for the Games, which are expected to cost $1.6bn.

Zhang Lannian, head of the Chinese research group into new flower breeds, told the China Daily that the flowers will be monitored for three years, to see if they bloom between July and September, when the Games are expected to be held.

A press official with the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Parks, Wang Zhongying, said the city had already been growing samples introduced from other domestic and foreign cities.

But she said that scientists had urged the capital to give precedence to locally grown flowers, so it did not lose its traditional features.

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