China: Stop selling 'Tokyo Big Bang' fireworks
A vendor walks out from a room where boxes of firecrackers with the words "Tokyo Big Explosion" are stored in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. The vendor said Chinese authorities have asked that the fireworks not be sold due to its name on the package. China and Japan are in a tense dispute over East China Sea islands that have inflamed anti-Japanese sentiment among Chinese. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
BEIJING, China - Chinese authorities have ordered retailers to stop selling fireworks named "Tokyo Big Bang" because they could damage relations with Japan, an official with the fireworks' manufacturer said Thursday.
Relations between China and Japan have been tense lately as the two argued over who owns tiny islands in the East China Sea.
As a result, authorities have passed on the message that "China is a peace-loving country and we should not do something damaging to the China-Japan friendship," said a manager at the Beijing Doudou Fireworks Company, which manufactured the fireworks in question. He gave only his surname, Yang.
The name came from both patriotism and profit, he said.
"At the time when we designed the package and introduced the name of the product, we thought if they're related to politics and trendy they could sell well. It's also because we're patriotic," Yang said.
"When the products hit the market, they were really loved by customers and even sold out at some retailers," he said. "We know the ban will hurt our profits, but it doesn't matter as long as the national interests of our country haven't been affected."
Fireworks are a major part of the festivities surrounding the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Sunday and marks the beginning of the Year of the Snake. Across the country, people set off fireworks throughout the day and night on the streets. Chinese traditionally believe the noise will fend off evil spirits and bad luck.
At one store in central Beijing, boxes of the "Tokyo Big Bang" fireworks were spotted earlier this week piled up in a backroom.