China urges stronger safety measures after Shanghai stampede, Xinhua reports

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - China's vice-premier has urged authorities to strengthen safety measures after a New Year's Eve stampede in Shanghai in which 36 people were killed, state news agency Xinhua reported.

China's response to the tragedy has drawn global attention, with critics saying it could hamper Shanghai's ambition to become a world financial centre by 2020.

Vice-Premier Wang Yang said on Monday authorities and tourism boards across China should identify risks, improve safety measures and step up emergency response systems, Xinhua reported.

He said during an inter-ministerial meeting on tourism that authorities should learn from the disaster - the worst to hit Shanghai since 2010 - and be aware of their responsibilities for public safety during the upcoming Spring Festival and Lantern Festival holidays across China.

"More effort must be made to regulate the tourism market so we can ensure travellers' safety," Mr Wang said. Tourism helps boost domestic demand, stabilize growth, create jobs and improve livelihoods, he said.

Mr Wang's response came after Shanghai, China's cosmopolitan financial centre, cancelled a two-decade old lantern festival held at its central Yu Garden over safety concerns sparked by the stampede.

Police are investigating the cause of the stampede.