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Innovation could provide a brighter future for Taiwan's sky lanterns

Tourists watch as Lantern Festival is celebrated in Pingxi, New Taipei City, Taiwan, last year. [OU DONGQU/XINHUA]

The ancient tradition is coming under fire from critics who complain of environmental damage and fire risks. Yuan Quan and Jia Zhao report for Xinhua.

The Chinese custom of flying lanterns goes back centuries. However, while the lanterns are symbols of peace and good fortune, they are now under threat.

Traditional sky lanterns are made from paper wrapped round a bamboo frame. After rising 300 to 500 meters in the air, the flame suspended from the base goes out and the lantern falls to the ground.

This makes them "flying garbage" and a "safety threat", according to critics who want the lanterns abolished.

In response, Taiwan entrepreneur Shao Ai-ting, 26, argues that the lanterns should be made so they burn up in mid-air, leaving no debris to cause pollution or damage.

"The sky lantern is an important cultural attraction in Taiwan," Shao said. "If we just stand by and do nothing, they really could be banned. That would be a great pity, wouldn't it?"

[ Editor: Xueying ]