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Shanghai Will Improve Regulations on Fireworks
A push to better regulate the sale of fireworks in Shanghai prior to next year's Spring Festival has a nice payoff for local residents, two pyrotechnic shows in Huangxing Park later this month.

The city has invited 80 fireworks manufacturers from around the country to demonstrate their wares on October 25 and 27 in the park. The companies will be competing for 20 licenses to sell their goods legally in the city, with their fireworks judged of safety and aesthetic quality by a jury of government officials. Admission to the shows is 50 yuan (US$6) per person.

The city wants to expand the number of companies that are allowed to sell fireworks legally in Shanghai in an effort to cut down the amount of illegal products sold in the city.

Local citizens spend 25 million to 30 million yuan on the fireworks every year, mostly to celebrate the arrival of a Chinese new year during the Spring Festival. But only about 8 million yuan worth of those fireworks are bought from legal sources.

The Shanghai Fire Control Bureau will begin a strict citywide campaign to crack down on illegal fireworks next month, officials said, noting that many manufacturers from other provinces begin shipping their goods to the city well before Spring Festival, which falls on February 1 next year.

"All the illegal fireworks we find in the local market come from nearby provinces as Shanghai has no plant for making fireworks," said Zhou Meiliang of the Fire Control Bureau.

A warehouse raid on September 9 by local cops indicates that some companies have already begun export fireworks to Shanghai. Police found 649 boxes of illegal pyrotechnics, valued at more than 200,000 yuan, in a storehouse in Baoshan District.

On Tuesday, city authorities issued their annual announcement about where and when local residents can set off fireworks during the festival - a regulation that has been routinely ignored in the past.

Fireworks are banned in many busy downtown areas, including Lujiazui, streets around People's Square and along Nanjing Road, and can only be set off between 8 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. during the New Year's eve and the first four days of the Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, holiday.

"Officers will patrol the streets during the festival and will first warn people who violate the ban. If people don't listen to the warning, officers will confiscate their fireworks, though we don't want to destroy people's happy mood at that time," said Chen Hangen, vice director of the bureau.

The various regulations are meant to prevent injuries and fires started by poor- quality fireworks. In 2000, two people were killed while setting off illegal fireworks.

(eastday.com October 17, 2002)

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