Asia

Chinese City Bans 3000-Year-Old Tradition of Burning ‘Ghost Money’ to Stop Pollution

A city in China has imposed a ban that goes against a widely-practiced Chinese tradition which can be traced back to 1000 BC.

Beginning last week, it will now be against the law to burn fake money for deities or deceased loved ones, at least, in the northeastern city of Harbin.

On March 14, the local government announced a complete ban on joss paper, the material which is composed of recycled yellow paper and is used to make paper money for the dead.

According to Sixth Tone (via Daily Mail), producing, selling or burning the paper known as ghost money may warrant fines for offenders in the city. Joss paper manufacturers and sellers will be fined 500 yuan ($73) to 1,000 yuan ($145), while those who are caught burning them will be fined between 200 yuan ($29) to 1,000 yuan ($145).

Chongqing Morning News reported that a dozen of joss paper manufacturers have already stated that production of the product has been terminated immediately following the announcement.

The municipal government of Harbin’s ban on the “feudal superstition” was meant to “eradicate bad funeral practices, advocate civilized ancestor worship, and purify the urban environment.”

The ban was announced just a few weeks before the Ching Ming Festival when the Chinese traditionally visit their dead loved ones’ tombs and burn ghost money for them.

Harbin is the only city in the whole Heilongjiang province implementing the ban. Local government officials explained that burning joss paper produces fine PM2.5 particles, a primary pollutant in the city.

Harbin Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau environmental information head Yang Xiaodi said the ban would help prevent the further increase of PM 2.5 particles.

Another source for the dreaded particle is coal-burning, which is prevalent in the city and neighboring locales during winter.


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