China toughens controls on illegal guns and explosives: Xinhua

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - China's police are cracking down on illegal guns and explosives ahead of the Chinese New Year festival and the annual session of Parliament, state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

The campaign was launched on Monday to "eliminate public security risks linked to guns and explosives" and will run through March, it reported.

The possession of guns by private individuals is illegal in China. According to the Ministry of Public Security, gun- and explosive-related crime fell by 3.6 per cent and 15 per cent respectively in 2014.

However, online purchases of guns and explosives and their delivery by courier services have become a "prominent issue", Xinhua quoted deputy minister of public security Huang Ming as saying.

In addition to focusing on smuggling and the illegal manufacture and sale of guns and explosives, police will inspect safety practices in national defence departments where work involves their use.

Chinese New Year is on Feb 19 this year. China's parliament, the National People's Congress, meets each year in early March.