BEIJING is battling back against the influence of foreign culture. A new ideological campaign is now in full swing, official reports showed yesterday. From cartoons to Beijing opera, it highlights the importance leaders place in feeding the public uniquely Chinese and patriotic material. Propaganda chief Ding Guang'en officially kicked off the drive last week by urging cultural workers to follow President Jiang Zemin's order of 'arming people with scientific theories . . . and moulding people with lofty spirits'. Xinhua (the New China News Agency) yesterday reported that the Beijing Publishing House is to put out a new cartoon journal called Beijing Cartoons. Cadres and artists urged the creation of the journal, featuring home-grown characters, because of the rapid growth in popularity of American cartoons like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and the Lion King, Xinhua said. The report said the party's Propaganda Department had launched a 'Chinese cartoon project, expected to publish several kinds of cartoon magazines'. The agency also reported that a year-long campaign had begun to select the mainland's 10 best novels. It did not reveal the selection criteria but hinted that the chosen novels would be those 'healthy works which inspired the people with real artistic taste'. The campaign coincides with another ideological programme by educationists in the country. According to Xinhua, as in previous years, China will again organise a one-year reading programme for primary and middle-school students. One hundred 'good books' will be recommended to young students to develop their 'sense of patriotism'. In addition, the official media reported that Politburo Standing Committee member Li Ruihuan chaired a meeting in Beijing on Tuesday, during which he called for a revival of Beijing Opera. 'Beijing opera is the representative of Chinese folk operas, and a cultural treasure of the Chinese nation as well as of the world,' said Mr Li, who is known to be a fan of the traditional art. In reporting the meeting, Xinhua said the port city Tianjin would organise the first Beijing opera festival this month as an 'antidote to the fact that many young people are trading theatre-going for electronic games and Western movies'.