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China Focus: Beijingers pare down pyrotechnics for Spring Festival (2)


09:37, February 11, 2013

BMEMC director Zhang Dawei said a mild north wind helped ease the air pollution Saturday night.

"Although the figure was dwarfed by that of last year, the negative impact of fireworks on air quality is very clear," said Zhang, adding that PM2.5 readings started going up around 5 p.m.

In a preemptive measure against smog, the government has reduced the number of franchised firework shops to 1,337 from last year's 1,429. Only 750,000 cartons of fireworks went on sale this year, down from 810,000 in 2012.

Beijing authorities lifted a 12-year-long fireworks ban in 2005 after the public argued that the fireworks would create a more festive atmosphere.

The better-than-expected New Year's Eve air quality has not eased public concerns about smog, as the fireworks are expected to last until the first full moon of the first lunar month.

Taoist priest Li Xinjun, director of the management committee of the White Cloud Temple, wrote on Sina Weibo, a popular microblogging site, that the public should refrain from burning incense and setting off large amounts of fireworks for the purpose of bringing themselves "great fortune."

"A sincere wish to be a kind and upright person matters more than anything else if someone wants fortune," said Li.

Beijing resident Yang Bin has refused to set off any fireworks for the last 25 years. "Setting off fireworks pollutes the air and creates noise. I am against it, but not everybody agrees with me," said Yang.

Professor Xie Shaodong with the College of Environmental Sciences of the Peking University said the smog can still serve a good purpose.

"If the public's environmental awareness can be aroused and people are willing to change their behavior for the sake of others, something good can be made out of a bad situation," he said.

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