- “Among all the ancient traditions that Chinese people observe during the lunar New Year, setting off firecrackers is the most controversial. Originally used to “drive bad luck away,” firecrackers have been an intrinsic part of the Chinese New Year celebration for thousands of years. Yet, their contribution to air and noise pollution has always incurred debates about whether they should be banned. This year, the debate has been intensified by the severe air quality crisis many cities faced right before the festival.
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Towards the end of January, citizens in Beijing endured several waves of what many Western media outlets dubbed “airpocalypse.” On January 29, the air quality index released by the U.S. embassy in Beijing peaked at 526, beyond “hazardous” and literally off the charts. Responding to the environmental disaster, many Web users spontaneously advocated to stop setting off firecrackers during the upcoming festival. A comment tweeted by Shi Shusi(@石述思), the editor-in-chief of the Workers’ Daily, is representative. “Entering middle age, I suddenly realize that the majority of my family consists of seniors and children. So although I’ve loved firecrackers since childhood, I decided to quit using them for the sake of both tranquility for my family and clearer air. I request earnestly that everyone set off fewer firecrackers, and while doing it, try to keep your distance from seniors and children.”
As the anti-firecracker web users’ voices multiplied, accounts of official media joined the campaign. China Central Television’s Economics and Finance Channel (@央视财经) is one of them. “The air quality in Beijing has become poorer and poorer as we approach the New Year. If we still set off firecrackers, the air quality will not be not restorable. Here, our channel – Jacqueline Nivard