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Lunar New Year Begins With Celebrations

People in China, Korea, Vietnam and elsewhere are ringing in the Lunar New Year Sunday with street celebrations, decorations and gifts.

The 15-day holiday, which is the single most important holiday for Chinese people, is the start of the Year of the Dog.

In Beijing, authorities lifted a 12-year ban on exploding fireworks. The Beijing Daily newspaper said about three thousand police officers are patrolling downtown areas in case of fire and accidents.

During the new year celebrations, people often give gifts to family and friends. Animal protection groups are urging people not to give dogs, fearing the animals will end up abandoned.

In Vietnam, the new year is known as "Tet." This year, the official media reported a 30 percent increase in the number of foreign tourists arriving just before the holiday.

Some information for this reoport provided by AP, Reuters and AFP.