Anyone who has spent even a nanosecond in China will know of the Chinese love for fireworks and crackers.  Not a day went by when we weren’t woken by the splutter of fireworks in the distance, and it was a rare night when they did not like up the sky.  On our first night in China as we were driven to a banquet dinner with the school, we were amazed to see fireworks in the distance.  We asked one of the teachers “What are the fireworks for?  Is there a celebration?”  To which we only received bemused and puzzled looks.  We joked to ourselves that perhaps the fireworks were in our honour, but were soon to realise this was a daily (by multiple) event. 

The Chinese use fireworks for all sorts of occasions, symbolising the end of the old and the beginning of the new.   They have been used throughout time to bring prosperity and happiness and to frighten away evil spirits.  We were to learn that fireworks would be set off for all manner of reasons – birthdays, weddings, store and restaurant openings…hell, buy a pair of socks and set of some fireworks to celebrate! 

Of course, if you put together the concepts of China + fireworks, your mind is bound to realise that a lot of these fireworks must be made illegally and perhaps many Chinese must die each year as a result of fireworks related accidents.  Well, you’d be right on both counts.  In fireworks-1news this week, police and firefighters destroyed a large amount of illegal fireworks that had been confiscated in the lead up to Spring Festival (Chinese New Year).  The pictures are pretty impressive, but would have been moreso if the destruction had have been staged at night (possibly with an epic song about the flag and some children in bubbles).  Alas, there are possibly thousands of Chinese whose New Year is looking a little more grim and lacking in good fortune.

Sadly though, with the illegal production of so many fireworks comes the obvious lack of safety, hence Chinese news is littered with stories throughout the year of accidents, explosions and hundreds of deaths.  The latest resulting in the death of 13 people in an illegal factory.  Whilst the media claims of crackdowns, it’s impossible to halt the scale of these sorts of operations when there is  money to be made and an ever growing market.


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