Fru­gal­ity cam­paign, smog sour fire­works sales

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By XIN­HUA in Chang­sha

The ap­proach­ing Lu­nar New Year fes­tiv­i­ties used to mean big busi­ness for He Jianwu, se­nior ex­ec­u­tive of a fire­works man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in Hu­nan prov­ince.

How­ever, an on­go­ing fru­gal­ity cam­paign by the cen­tral govern­ment and lin­ger­ing smog that has plagued most of eastern and north­ern China this month have dealt his com­pany a heavy blow.

He is chair­man of Hu­nan Dream Fire­works Co, which has par­tic­i­pated in many do­mes­tic art and mu­sic fes­ti­vals in the past. So far this year, He has not re­ceived a sin­gle govern­ment call to bid on fire­works shows.

A cir­cu­lar re­leased in late Novem­ber by the Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mis­sion for Dis­ci­pline In­spec­tion, the coun­try’s top dis­ci­plinary watch­dog, urged of­fi­cials not to buy fire­works and fire­crack­ers with pub­lic funds dur­ing hol­i­days.

Many lo­cal gov­ern­ments and en­ter­prises have re­sponded to the call and can­celed fire­works shows planned dur­ing hol­i­days.

Dur­ing the one-week Lu­nar New Year hol­i­day, which be­gins on Jan 31, many Chi­nese nor­mally set off fire­works and fire­crack­ers to cel­e­brate.

Al­though fire­works- trig­gered ac­ci­dents hap­pen ev­ery year, many peo­ple con­sider fire­works an es­sen­tial part of their lives, es­pe­cially at wed­dings and dur­ing Chi­nese New Year.

Many Bei­jing res­i­dents still have fresh mem­o­ries of a fire­works gala dur­ing Lantern Fes­ti­val in Fe­bru­ary 2009 at the China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion build­ing, which caused a fire that killed one fire­fighter and in­jured six oth­ers, as well as in­jur­ing two con­struc­tion work­ers.

“The do­mes­tic fire­works mar­ket has shrunk sig­nif­i­cantly as en­ter­prises have fol­lowed the govern­ment’s call and re­duced their bud­gets for fire­works shows,” said Li Ding­ping, Party chief of the Li­uyang Fire­works and Fire­crack­ers Ad­min­is­tra­tion Bureau.

It is still un­cer­tain if huge fire­works stocks, which are sig­nif­i­cantly larger than in pre­vi­ous years, will be sold in the com­ing month, Li said.

Weather is an­other fac­tor that will af­fect sales, he said.

“Many cities tem­po­rar­ily banned fire­works in the event of se­ri­ous pol­lu­tion in pre­vi­ous years,” he said. “It’s hard to fore­cast the weather con­di­tions dur­ing Spring Fes­ti­val.”

Li­uyang pro­duces about 40 per­cent of China’s fire­works and fire­crack­ers.

Posts call­ing for peo­ple not to set off fire­crack­ers dur­ing the up­com­ing fes­ti­val are cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia plat­forms, in­clud­ing Sina Weibo, and WeChat, a pop­u­lar mo­bile text and voice mes­sag­ing ap­pli­ca­tion.

Many have pledged not to set off fire­crack­ers in a bid for cleaner air.

A re­cent on­line sur­vey on Sina Weibo or­ga­nized by Zheng Yuan­jie, a renowned Chi­nese fairy­tale writer, showed that 85 per­cent of 1,585 re­spon­dents agreed not to set off fire­crack­ers dur­ing Spring Fes­ti­val.

To sur­vive this predica­ment, fire­works man­u­fac­tur­ers are de­vel­op­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly prod­ucts and tap­ping ru­ral mar­kets, which are less af­fected by air pol­lu­tion.

CUI MENG / FOR CHINA DAILY

A man shops for fire­works in Bei­jing at a dis­tri­bu­tion point the lo­cal govern­ment au­tho­rized to sell such prod­ucts.

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