Beijing makes 'no fireworks' plea amid smog concerns

Officials in China's capital, Beijing, have called on residents to refrain from setting off fireworks for the Lunar New Year, amid smog concerns.

The call comes after the entire province of Henan banned the practice.

Authorities have been under pressure to stop the heavy pollution blanketing the capital and other parts of China.

The Chinese tradition of setting off fireworks and firecrackers to ring in the new year is considered auspicious and an essential part of celebrations.

The Spring Festival, as it is also known, starts on Saturday and is China's biggest holiday period.

The Beijing government released advisories on its official Weibo microblogging account on Thursday night and Friday afternoon pleading with residents, city officials, companies and schools to observe a "green and environmentally-protective new year".

It pointed out that fireworks and firecrackers not only caused pollution, but could also lead to fires and accidents.

"Let us enthusiastically take action by not setting off, or setting off fewer, fireworks and firecrackers, and allow Beijing to have a bluer sky, fresher air and a more beautiful and safer environment this Spring Festival," it said.