While fabulous as always, this year’s CNY celebrations didn’t quite pop as much as in years past, likely due to a ban on fireworks in 138 Chinese cities, and restrictions on their usage in 536 others.
One such no-tolerance city is Zhengzhou, which threatened fines of up to 500 yuan. Since the ban went into effect at the start of this year, at least 55 offenders have met judgment from the local police, CCTV News reports.
Meanwhile, northern cities like Beijing and Shijiazhuang are restricting the enjoyment of fireworks to specific times, having been sobered by last year’s smog problem. Beijing is cracking down the quota to 10 days this year, a drop from 20 days last year. Nonetheless, national meteorological data shows that PM2.5 levels were at a dangerous “heavy pollution” peak as a result of CNY celebrations, measuring an average of 150-250μg/m³ in the south of the city.
— Cate Cadell (@catecadell) February 8, 2016
As for Shanghai, it has put into effect registration for the purchase of fireworks, and illegal usage will prompt a ban on future purchasing — but on the other hand, it is encouraging the use of electronic variations.
Interestingly, it would appear fireworks for CNY are going out of fashion somewhat anyway — a China News poll found that out of 7,054 respondents, 56.2% were not so hot on their use, leery of pollution and other various mishaps. Only 41.8% insisted on the necessity of fireworks for celebration.
In Beijing, sales this year have reportedly dropped by half since last year — which already saw its own drop from 2013. Market stalls in Tianyi are even resorting to half-price discounts to get them off the shelves. “I definitely think it’s because of the economy,” grumbled one such merchant, by the name of Teng Qi. “It is very disappointing. We’re now just barely getting by.”
Still, enthusiasm for the spectacle persists in some. “Where I’m from, firecrackers are a must for all the big occasions,” shared Chen Tang, 28. “Weddings, funerals, even when someone buys something big, like a television.”
The latter occasion is probably a bit excessive in light of the country’s air quality, but we get the sentiment.
[Images via CCTV]