Saturday, February 6, 2010

Illegal fireworks sales ablaze

By Zhao Yanrong (China Daily)

Details: Unlicensed vendors hawk cheap, powerful goods in Daxing.

Illegal fireworks are still being sold in Daxing district ahead of the government's authorized period of sale, despite a crackdown on Monday.

Firecracker sales should officially start on Sunday inside the Fifth Ring Road, while sales outside the perimeter began yesterday, the authorities said.

"Do you want to buy fireworks? I have all kinds and they are cheaper than in licensed shops," said a man in his mid 30s, standing outside Langfa Village inside the South Fifth Ring Road and waving at passing vehicles.

The unidentified man asked an undercover METRO reporter yesterday to follow him to his car. Three other men quickly joined to promote the sale.

"Don't fire this one within 50 m of a building, otherwise all the windows will be destroyed," the man said, while holding a firecracker the size of a 500 ml water bottle.

"You can never find such powerful fireworks in licensed shops in the city."

The fireworks on sale here are much cheaper than in official shops located outside of the Fifth Ring Road.

Firecrackers, for example, are 2 yuan each with licensed counterparts priced at 5 yuan.

In less than 10 minutes, four groups of customers had arrived to check out the goods.

"I spent more than 2,000 yuan in licensed shops last year, but many firecrackers exploded without getting off the ground," said a female driver from Haidian district who came to the village to buy fireworks. "Why should I spend more than I need to?"

The four fireworks salesmen said they stopped customers from following them to their illegal warehouse to escape police.

"There are many cops in the village now. They have already confiscated more than a million yuan in illegal fireworks," a salesman in the group who identified himself as Wu said.

"I only have some samples in my car. If the police come, I can just pretend that I bought some for fun. A friend of mine was detained on Monday by police for 15 days in their latest crackdown," he added.

Wu said they imported most of their goods from Zhuozhou, Hebei province, last August.

"There were fewer police on the highways checking fireworks transport than now. Even so, we needed to bribe some of the checking points," he said.

A male customer told the sales team they could make a lot of money.

"The shop owner I usually use in the village earned 300,000 yuan in just three months before the last Chinese New Year," he said.

According to a fireworks regulation released by the municipal government on Christmas Day last year, only licensed shop owners can sell fireworks from Feb 7 to 28 inside the Fifth Ring Road in Beijing. All products must be approved and certified by the government.

A nine-year-old boy blew his four fingers off from unlicensed fireworks last week near Daxing district, the Beijing Times reported yesterday.


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