Even though setting off explosions across China has become the customary way to ring in the new Lunar year, the deteriorating state of China’s air quality means fireworks have come under greater scrutiny.
China is again considering a nationwide ban on fireworks. With an official decision looming, people in China have sparked vibrant online discussions about how the festival is celebrated in China and whether changes are needed.
On one side are people who believe bans on things like fireworks, and a recent ban on smoked meat houses in Chongqing, won’t solve the pollution problem. They say the government’s attention should be directed at big polluters, like factories and cars. “Banning fireworks as a way to lessen smog is just lazy governing. All will be right if you go after the big polluters (instead) and have them locked up,” one person wrote online.
The other side says fireworks are a tradition that has long outlived its usefulness. One person listed all the reasons fireworks should be banned, including: “…noise pollution, littering the streets with used firework shells, the smoke adds to the PM 2.5 level, misuse will lead to injuries and financial loss, the manufacturing of fireworks is dangerous, and that it’s a waste of money among other reasons.”
There are other Chinese customs that have changed in the modern era. For example, young adults have gotten the right to choose their own marriage partner, and the use of endangered animal parts in traditional Chinese medicine has become prohibited by law. With that in mind, this could be a turning point that sees traditional firework use frowned upon in favor of electronic fireworks.
As residents in cities like Hangzhou have personally made the decision to stop setting off fireworks during Chinese New Year, an unspecified poll says that Chinese are warming up to the idea of using electronic fireworks instead. Forty-five percent of the poll’s respondents say that electronic fireworks are just as good as the regular ones, calling them “lively, festive, and full of lucky feeling”.
Here’s how the electronic fireworks work. But turn down your speakers!
This video provides a complete rundown of how an electronic firework works (in Chinese):
And for people on the go, here’s an fake firework app you can put on your phone.
Photo: People’s Daily Online