Chinese lawmakers recently entered a fierce online debate on whether fireworks should be used to celebrate the Lunar New year this February. They said a total ban on fireworks in the country credited with inventing the noisemakers would be hard to enforce.
Lawmakers said air pollution prevention and fire safety laws have led to "differences in understanding" of the ban on fireworks. However, it was never a total ban.
In 2017, official data showed 444 cities had banned fireworks. Since then, some of the cities have loosened the bans. They permit fireworks at certain times of the year and at special places.
This month, however, many counties made announcements banning fireworks, restarting discussion on the ban.
"We've the right to fireworks," wrote a user of Weibo, a popular Chinese online discussion service.
Chinese folklore says the earliest fireworks were invented 2,000 years ago to drive away the "nian.” The nian, the story goes, was a monster that hunted people and animals before the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival.
Since then, fireworks came to be used to celebrate other events. This January, after three years of COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, some people ignored bans - and officials - and set off firecrackers.
Some Chinese say the fireworks bans were necessary to protect the environment.
An online opinion study by the official Beijing Youth Daily found that over 80 percent of people supported fireworks during Spring Festival. The festival is the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar.
Some also said the ban was ironic after the United Nations recently named the Spring Festival an official holiday, a move supported by Chinese officials.
"The Spring Festival belongs to the world, but China's is almost gone," wrote another Weibo user.
Southern Hunan province is a worldwide supplier of fireworks. Its exports totaled $579 million from January to November, state media reported. That number is far greater than domestic sales.
I’m Dan Novak.
Dan Novak adapted this Reuters report for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
county –n. the government for an area bigger than a city but smaller than a state or province which deals with local matters
folklore –n. traditional customs, stories and beliefs
calendar –n. a system for organizing days, weeks, months and years
ironic — adj. something that is funny in a way because it seems to be the opposite of how something should be