Real name registration required to buy face masks in Kunming following mass protests against PX plant (Update: cancelled)

Updated:Fri, Aug 2, 2013 09:29 AM   By Bernd Chang

Real name registration,Real name buying

The written notice issued by Anning Industrial and Commercial Bureau requires that residents should provide their real name, identity card number to buy face masks.

Real name registration is required for buying face masks in Anning, Kunming city, where a planned PX plant (paraxylene) drew mass protests in early and mid May, 2013.


Face mask joins with hunting gun, kitchen knife, petrol etc.,  becoming one of the most dangerous commodities in China that should be traded under certain circumstances.

Real name registration is required to buy face masks in Anning, Kunming, capital city of southwest China’s Yunnan province, where a planned PX (paraxylene)  plant has drawn mass protests this month,  Southern Metropolis Daily reports.

The Anning Industrial and Commercial Bureau issued a notification to all local dealers of face masks that real name registration is required from May 21 on to sell face masks to local residents, Weibo user @本人是临时工 revealed on May 24.

The written notice lists three requirements imposed on the face mask buyers and dealers:

  1. All department stores, supermarkets, drugstores, retailers that trade face masks should carry out real name registration to sell all types of face masks.
  2. Real-name registration means sellers should take note of the real name, identity card number of the buyers and the type and amount of face masks sold and the date.
  3. The city industrial and commercial bureau will conduct inspection and check in certain time. Those not following this notification will be punished according to certain regulations.

And the reason to implement real-name buying system is "to supervise the trade of various types of face masks", the notice reads.

 According to Southern Metropolis Daily, many drugstores confirmed they received this notification. And an official from the Anning Industrial and Commercial Bureau  acknowledged the notification is real but did not give the reason.

But actually the reason why real name is required to buy face mask is a public secret.  It is deeply believed among local residents as well as Chinese social media users to be related to the mass protest breaking out in early and mid May against a PX plant that was planned in Anning, 17 miles (28km) south-west of the Kunming city centre.

Kunming's first environmental protest this month was held on May 4 after China National Petroleum Corporation announced plans to build a petroleum refinery plant producing PX (paraxylene) in Anning. Hundreds of people took to the streets of Kunming on May 16 to protest against the plant again. Both protests were quashed by police without violence and arrest.

Protest appears to have no connection with face mask, but not in the case of PX protest in Kunming.

During both Kunming protests, many demonstrators donned face masks displaying anti-PX messages. And after the protests ebbed down, a few residents wear face masks in their daily life. It is not known whether they do so really for fear of air pollution or to engage a tacit protest against the government.

The absurd requirement shows the Kunming officials have apparently got hypersensitive to the face mask.

Since many demonstrators also sang national anthem and waved national flag during the protests, we recommend Kunming officials to go one step further to require real-name registration for buying red flag and ban on singing national anthem.  

Update: requirement cancelled

Shortly after the bizarre requirement was revealed and reported by major news portals in China, officials in Anning announced to cancel the notification and apologized to local residents and consumers on May 25.


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Past coverage about: Real name registration   Real name buying   Face mask   PX protest   Kunming protest   environmental protest   Paraxylene  

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