Beijing police destroyed a large quantity of substandard firecrackers on Sunday, just days before the traditional Spring Festival.
The 3,000 boxes of firecrackers, valued at more than 1.2 million yuan (167,000 U.S. dollars), were seized and detonated because of "potential danger to life and property".
"Statistics show that substandard firecrackers have always been a major cause of fires during the Spring Festival," said Yu Hongyuan, a senior official with the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau.
The capital has set up checkpoints on major roads into the city to prevent the inflow of substandard firecrackers.
Beijing lifted a 12-year total ban on firecrackers in 2006. Since then, two deaths, 1,510 injuries and more than 2,400 fires caused by mishandled firecrackers have been reported.
Deafening and sometimes deadly, firecrackers are nonetheless an essential element of China's most important festival, which falls on Feb. 7 this year.
(Xinhua News Agency February 4, 2008)