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Beijing tightens control over fireworks for holidays
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Police in Beijing will increase patrols in urban areas within the city's fifth ring road to enforce a directive banning setting off any fireworks from Christmas Eve to New Year's Day.

Entertainment venues have been listed as targets of the tightened patrols, said an official with the municipal fireworks office.

"Operators of the entertainment venues have been told not to set off fireworks, including those smokeless and cold flame ones commonly used to create festive effects," said the official. On Sunday afternoon, cops started to put up warning slogans on windows specially decorated for Christmas and on walls in Sanlitun, a famous bar street popular with Westerners in downtown Beijing.

"It is also illegal to sell stage fireworks or carry them around on mass transit," said the official, adding violators would face penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment.

In September 2005, Beijing lifted a 12-year ban on fireworks, allowing residents to set off fireworks in designated areas during the Lunar New Year and other important festivals.

Last year, the central government passed a regulation to strengthen the administration of fireworks sales and production, stipulating that all manufacturers and vendors must be licensed or face fines.

Setting off of fireworks in areas within the fifth ring road for the upcoming Spring Festival, which falls on Feb.7, 2008, is allowed only between Feb.6, through to Feb.21, the day for Lantern Festival, according to Tan Jin, an official with the municipal fireworks office.

To ensure safety in Beijing in 2008, when the 29th summer Olympic Games will be held in the Chinese capital, installation of selling or playing with fireworks is banned within 100 meters of venues for Olympic Games.

Altogether 2,277 applicants have applied for permits to sell fireworks retailing, said Li Wenjie, a senior official with the Municipal Bureau of Work Safety.

Li added fewer permits would be issued in eight downtown districts, while the number of permits in suburban areas would be raised by 50 or so. The transfer of ownership of permits is illegal.

(Xinhua News Agency December 24, 2007)

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