Postcard from... Beijing
The Chinese Lunar New Year fell yesterday, marking the beginning of the Year of the Snake. And to fend off evil spirits and bad luck, people set off fireworks all over the country.
By Saturday night in Beijing, the fireworks sounded like a full-on barrage and will continue for the duration of the week-long holiday.
After weeks of the worst pollution in years in the capital, Beijing authorities will likely have kept a close eye on air-quality reports, as fireworks drive up the microparticle readings.
One firework that did not feature so strongly this year is the "Tokyo Big Bang"– for fears of heightening tension with Japan. Relations are under pressure as the two countries argue over who owns a string of small uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. The Chinese believe the noise can fend off evil spirits and bad luck. An official with the Beijing Office of Fireworks and Firecrackers told the Xinhua news agency that 750,000 boxes of fireworks went on sale this year, down from 810,000 in 2012. The number of franchised firework shops has also been reduced to 1,337 from last year's 1,429.
To meet the huge demand, fireworks are made, shipped and stored in large quantities, sometimes in unsafe conditions. A truck carrying fireworks for Lunar New Year blew up and collapsed an elevated section of motorway in central China, killing 10 people.
Nearly every year there is a catastrophe. In 2006, on the first day of the New Year, a storeroom filled with fireworks exploded in Henan, killing 36 people.
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...