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Beijing bans fireworks during Olympics PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 10 June 2008

AP, BEIJING — Beijing has banned fireworks for more than three months this summer as part of a raft of new regulations designed to ensure strict security during the upcoming Olympic Games.

Dealers will be forced to suspend sales in the capital and lock existing stocks in specially designated warehouses from July 1 to Oct. 8, according to an order posted on the Web site of the Beijing Administration of Work Safety.

The rule tightens regulations that ban fireworks in the city center for most of the year to include all of Beijing's sprawling suburbs.

In China, the civilization credited with inventing gunpowder, massive fireworks barrages and displays are commonly used to celebrate weddings, the lunar new year and other festive occasions.

It was not known how the ban would affect the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, which have been planned in secret. The Olympics run from Aug. 8-24, followed by the Sept. 6-17 Paralympic Games, also hosted by Beijing.

The order posted on the work safety administration site Friday did not elaborate on the purpose of the fireworks ban, besides saying it was being imposed "to ensure safety around the time of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games." But it falls in line with other stringent arrangements apparently designed to ward off threats of violent attack, catastrophic accidents or public disorder.

China's communist leaders have made meticulous preparations for the games, even issuing a list of dos and don'ts for would-be foreign visitors, to try to ensure the event goes off without a hitch. Beijing wants to use the Olympics to strengthen domestic support and expanded clout abroad as a rising diplomatic and economic power.

Additional measures contained in the administration's announcement include 24-hour guards posted at all gas stations located within 980 feet of Olympic venues, new restrictions on the use of toxic chemicals and an outright ban on the use of the common disinfectant liquid chlorine.

The new restrictions have been taken in stride by Beijing residents, long inured to being told what to do by the authoritarian regime, which offers few channels for complaints and controls the media with a heavy hand.

However, some measures have drawn increasingly loud protests from the International Olympic Committee, foreign residents, Olympic commercial sponsors and even broadcast rights holders.

Those include increased scrutiny of visa applications that has forced many long-term residents to leave the country, as well as limits on live coverage in iconic Tiananmen Square and claims that freight shipments of TV broadcasting equipment are being held up in Chinese ports.

More than 30,000 accredited and non-accredited journalists are expected to cover the games, although tighter rules may end up blocking an expected influx of foreign visitors that the city's hotel and entertainment industries hopes will bring them a windfall.
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