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Beijing to Hold Public Hearing on Loosing Ban of Firecrackers

Beijing will hold a public hearing on the new draft regulations which are to loosen a 12-year ban on firecrackers in the city on Aug. 14, local government announced Wednesday.


The Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress, or the capital's legislative body, issued a bulletin Wednesday, saying 16 representatives have been selected from 69 candidates aged from nine to ninety.


Six of the representatives, old and retired Beijingers, have shown much more concern about the issue, said an official with the law-drafting office of the municipal people's congress.


The standing committee discussed the "Beijing Safety Regulations on Fireworks and Firecrackers (draft)" at its 21st meeting in July, which aroused great public attention in Beijing.


The new draft regulations loosen regulations on locations and times for setting off firecrackers. Currently, firecrackers can only be used outside of the fifth ring road.


Citizens can now use firecrackers during the Spring Festival and other key festivals within the fifth ring road.


However, a strict ban remains unchanged for regions around cultural heritage sites, gas stations, airports and hospitals, all of which are vulnerable to firecracker damage.


"Our investigation showed most Beijing citizens have agreed to loosening the ban, so, the discussions at the hearing will concentrate on whether the time and locations for limitations are reasonable or not," said the official.


The banging of firecrackers was for centuries the distinctive feature of the Spring Festival -- a traditional Chinese festival of family union and joy.


Firecrackers were banned 12 years ago in Beijing, considered environmentally unfriendly and dangerous.


In the past 12 years, the ban on firecrackers has been severely questioned by Beijing citizens, who hold that it is unacceptable to change folk traditions handed down from their forefathers.


Some citizens even showed open defiance of the regulations by setting off firecrackers during the Spring Festival.


The municipal government started taking action by setting up work teams for new regulations and soliciting advice from experts after other big cities such as Shanghai and Nanjing eliminated their ban on firecrackers.


A survey by the municipal congress shows that 60 to 90 percent of Beijing citizens want to set off fireworks and firecrackers in the Spring Festival period.


(Xinhua News Agency August 11, 2005)


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