Beijing bans fireworks, amid clampdown on potentially dangerous activities

China's President Xi Jinping speaks at the opening ceremony of the Communist Party of China in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-level Meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Dec 1, 2017.
China's President Xi Jinping speaks at the opening ceremony of the Communist Party of China in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-level Meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Dec 1, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - China may have invented fireworks but Beijing banned them from the capital on Friday (Nov 1) ahead of Lunar New Year celebrations, as the authorities clamp down on potentially dangerous activities.

The new regulation was passed by the local government, state news agency Xinhua said, and comes amid a city-wide campaign that is driving an estimated tens of thousands of migrants from homes that authorities deem unsafe following a deadly fire.

In a country that is known for its fireworks - and is thought to have invented them more than a thousand years ago during the Tang Dynasty - the ban will likely not be popular.

During the 15-day Lunar New Year period, the bangs, pops and flickers of fireworks are constant, and are thought to drive away evil spirits.

It is unclear if Beijing authorities will enforce the ban during the boisterous national holidays as well.

Firework sellers are worried though.

"No more firework stalls will be allowed within the fifth ring road," said Tao Liang, marketing manager of Panda Fireworks, referring to the road that encircles the heart of the city. "It's clear that sales will fall a lot."

The ban adds Beijing to a long list of Chinese cities that have restricted firework use in recent years amid safety and pollution concerns.

Those restrictions have sent Panda Fireworks, one of China's largest firework makers, searching for new business.

"Our company has been thinking about the transformation for a long time," said Tao.

"We established Panda International Information Technology Company in 2014, which is doing pretty good."