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New rules to lift ban on fireworks in Beijing
By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-09-08 05:41

Even if Beijing legislators decide tomorrow to lift a 12-year ban on lighting firecrackers, they might still forbid setting them off at midnight during Spring Festival.

"It is permitted to set off fireworks within the Fifth Ring Road from New Year's Eve to 11 pm on the first day of the first lunar month and 7 am to 11 pm on the following 14 days until the 15th day (Lantern Festival)," the revision to the draft of the Beijing municipal firecracker safety management rule reads.

The draft was discussed by the Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress yesterday for the second time and will be voted on tomorrow.

In the previous version of the draft, no restrictions had been listed in setting off firecrackers during Spring Festival.

The lighting of fireworks in urban Beijing has been forbidden since 1993, even during Lunar New Year, when firecrackers are traditionally believed to be a symbol of happiness.

However, the ban has been ignored in recent years, especially during Spring Festival this year, when the sound of firecrackers was heard nearly everywhere.

"The restriction on the time period for setting off firecrackers during Spring Festival is to reduce the negative influence of the noise to residents," Wang Jiayan, deputy director of the Commission of Legislative Affairs under the Beijing Municipal People's Congress, said yesterday.

The change was made after a public hearing last month, when nine speakers appealed for a restriction on the time period for lighting firecrackers.

However, Liu Li, a congressional delegate, said yesterday that she was afraid that to restrict the time period would make it difficult for authorities to enforce the law.

She also advised forbidding firecrackers in the old urban areas of the capital, most of which are within the Second Ring Road.

"There is a huge population and a lot of historical relics, many of which are made of wood," Liu explained.

The current draft forbids lighting firecrackers anytime at seven types of places such as cultural relics, airports, filling stations and forests.

Chen Xingbo, a member of the standing committee, urged the municipal government to issue relevant rules ahead of the effective dates of the legislation regarding, for example, types of permitted firecrackers.

It is expected that the removal of the ban will take effect ahead of Spring Festival next year.

Also on the first day of the standing committee session yesterday, legislators discussed a draft of a municipal regulation concerning the franchise operation of the construction of an infrastructural facility.

(China Daily 09/08/2005 page2)

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