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Beijing raises rewards for reporting on illegal firecracker production
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Beijing has decided to raise the reward for whistleblowers of illegal firecracker production, with the traditional Chinese Spring Festival less than one month away.

The Beijing municipal government will quadruple the maximum premium for each person who discloses the production and sale of illegal firecrackers, raising the reward from 5,000 yuan (688 U.S. dollars) to 20,000 yuan.

The government also promised a "special reward" for those who provide information that leads to an important discovery, without elaborating.

"The scale of the illegal firecracker business has expanded in line with the increasing demand of fireworks with the Spring Festival around the corner," said an official with the city's Firework Safety Administration Office.

A reward of 280,000 yuan has been granted to reporters since last Spring Festival and a total of 106 people involved in 95 cases have been arrested, according to local government.

Beijing tightened control over illegal firecracker production this year by launching a crackdown on substandard firecracker workshops throughout the city.

Checkpoints have been set up at entrances of every major highways into Beijing to cut the supply of illegal firecrackers, the official said.

The officer also said firecracker watchdogs will keep a close eye on the online black markets, which have emerged recently.

The three major fireworks companies in Beijing joined hands to fight against fake firecrackers by cutting prices and setting up a special fund for the crackdown on illegal firework production.

Fireworks are part of traditional celebrations marking the Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, which falls on Feb. 7 this year.

China accounts for about 75 percent of the world's total annual firecracker production.

(Xinhua News Agency January 9, 2008)

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