FIRST AIRED: February 12, 2018

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Transcript

00:00:02
>> Times maybe catching up to China's age old fireworks factories. This is where pyrotechnics were said to be invented during the Tung dynasty. 1,400 years later, it's still the lifeblood of Luoyang city. In factories high up in the hills, each worker has their own bunker with meter-thick blastproof concrete walls.
00:00:20
Many here spend 9 to 5 working explosive black powder by hand, and this week's Lunar Year is peak season. But when Reuters Philip Nguyen visited the factories, he found an industry struggling with Beijing's pollution crackdown. China produces some 90% of the world's fireworks, and most of that comes from here.
00:00:39
This year, however, as part of a major sweeping crackdown on pollution, more than 400 cities across the country have implemented bans on fireworks and firecrackers. And so this has, of course, affected the industry here in Luoyang rather significantly.
NOISE]>>
It’s a dangerous job and also a dying one.
00:01:01
Many smaller factories have been bought up or forced to close. In the last three years, the number of factories has dropped from over 900 to less than half that. It's not only pollution, younger Chinese see fireworks as old-fashioned. Tighter safety standards have raised the cost of business and President Xi Jinping's anticorruption drive has driven cuts in public spending.
00:01:22
>> Fireworks and firecrackers are an absolutely vital part of any Chinese celebration or major events. They're set off to mark weddings, funerals, the opening of businesses, and of course, Chinese New Year. A really interesting aspect to all this is I guess the conflict between the modernization of China and sort of keeping in touch with its traditional roots.
00:01:47
Loud noises made by firecrackers are believed to chase off bad spirits, but as bans spread to big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, this year may be welcomed in with a little less of a bang.
NOISE]