Regional governments impose stricter fireworks regulations ahead of lunar New Year

Updated 2017-01-24 08:49:18 Global Times

Registration required, number of retailers reduced

Several cities and regions in China, including Shanghai and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, have tightened regulations on the use of fireworks, requiring buyers to register their personal information and reducing the number of retailers during the upcoming Spring Festival.

Shanghai authorities only allowed seven retail outlets to sell pyrotechnics, which began on Monday, over safety concerns, Shanghai-based Labor Daily reported on Monday.

In Xinjiang, real-name registration for purchasing pyrotechnics is likewise required, the Xinjiang Daily reported on Sunday.

The number of retail outlets dropped from over 600 last year to 500.

Xinjiang authorities have banned online and mobile messaging app WeChat sales, which launched its mini-store service in 2014, and has since offered platforms to business operators.

Xi'ning, Northwest China's Qinghai Province, a city where ethnic minority groups make up 26 percent of the population, including Hui people and Tibetans, requires real-name registration when purchasing fireworks for the first time, local news site reported.

Those who purchase fireworks multiple times or in great amounts will be reported to the police to avoid possible illegal circulation.

Chinese people traditionally light firecrackers and fireworks to celebrate Spring Festival, believing that the noise scares off evil spirits and bad luck, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

However, frequent bouts of smog has made authorities aware of the effect of fireworks to the atmosphere, which has led to measures and regulations.

The Beijing Municipality will reduce the sale of fireworks during Spring Festival, reducing the number of retailers to 511, down by 29 percent from a year earlier, the Beijing Morning Post reported on Friday.

None of the outlets are located within the Third Ring Road, one of the busiest roads in downtown Beijing.

If an orange or red alert for heavy air pollution is issued, the delivery and sale of fireworks will be suspended. Beijing has a four-tier alert system for pollution, with red the highest, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

On January 16, Henan Province lifted its ban for two days after a directive expanded the existing firecracker ban to cover all towns during Spring Festival, Xinhua reported.

The province, like many others in northern China, has been experiencing poor air quality this winter, and an environmental pollution office was established to help address the issue.

According to an emergency notice the office released on January 14, firecrackers should be banned in all cities, counties, townships and villages across the province. But the notice has split opinions online.

Henan Provincial Environmental Protection Department officials later explained that the government moved to lift the ban after deciding it would be in conflict with Chinese traditions.

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