Chinese New Year 2018 will be remembered as Beijing’s quietest, perhaps for centuries, as the fireworks ban silenced the city center.
Prior to the night itself there had been speculation on social media that the ban would simply be ignored. However with fireworks shops having been ordered to close by the police, and the usual pop-up stalls not popping up, even getting hold of fireworks was a challenge. Sales were reported to be down over 80 percent, and 14,000 boxes of illegal fireworks were confiscated.
These efforts appear to have been successful, with beijingkids’ downtown reporters not hearing a single bang. The unusual quiet attracted international attention: the Jakarta Post reported it as “Beijing Bans Fireworks, Evil Spirits Rejoice”. Fireworks are traditionally believed to scare away a monster called Nian, although; as my children pointed out, since he’s scared of loud noises and the color red, he’s not exactly the most intimidating monster they’ve ever heard of.
The ban was part of a package of measures aimed at improving the city’s air quality, and they seem to have been successful so far, with 2017 being the best year for air quality in Beijing since records began in 2013. There is no reason to believe that the ban will be eased in future years.
Beyond the fifth ring road, though, it was pyrotechnic business as usual. In Shunyi there were impromptu displays on every street corner, with a particularly spectacular show on Anhua Dajie, outside the International School of Beijing (ISB).
Photo: Bridget Colla via Flickr