Two cities in the eastern province of Shandong had announced via their official websites that fireworks and firecrackers would be allowed in the lead-up to Lunar New Year on January 22nd. A government-backed news site also reported that authorities in Dalian and Beijing would allow fireworks for limited hours until the first month of the lunar calendar. However, many other cities and provinces across China have clarified that the original fireworks ban will remain in place.
In Wenzhou, Sihong and Jinzhou city, residents have been punished by police for illegally setting off fireworks. The northern province of Hebei has also confirmed that the ban will continue and denied the fake news that fireworks and firecrackers can disinfect the air and kill the COVID-19 virus. In Ya’an alone, eight districts and counties have different regulations on fireworks for Lunar New Year.
Qin Peng, a political commentator, says “that the Chinese Communist Party may be superstitious and do not like fireworks. Because they are used to scare away evil spirits.” Many people in China have ignored the ban on fireworks this year because they are angry and upset about the strict COVID-19 rules that have been in place for the past three years. This includes lockdowns, monitoring, testing, and quarantine.
On January 2nd, police in Henan province faced widespread protests and damage to police vehicles when they attempted to enforce the fireworks ban in Hongdaoyuan Square in Luyi County. In response, police chiefs in the northern city of Xi’an issued an urgent reminder to police forces to “resolutely suppress mass incidents” and to “strengthen control over the internet and social media.”
Spring Festival, also known as Lunar New Year, is the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar and is typically celebrated with fireworks and firecrackers. Recently, some cities have banned fireworks because they worry about air pollution and safety. The lifting or relaxation of the ban in some cities has led to confusion and frustration among the public.