Shoemakers in China's Wenling city, Zhejiang province, south of Shanghai, now have to pay a minimum of CNY1m (US$162,784.15) to be registered and licensed with the local government to start business.

This new city regulation, issued on 20 February, aims to regulate local shoemakers, 85% of which are unlicensed private workshops located in private apartments.

The move was spurred by a shoe factory fire in the city on 14 January that killed 16 people.

"We need to upgrade our shoemaking industry and it starts from improving production safety conditions," said Sheng Jianyong, head of Wenling shoe industry chamber.

"This bloody lesson is a definite sign that our shoemaking industry is facing a critical stage. Those unlicensed factories competing on costs with no safety standards can no longer be tolerated," Li Bin, Wenling's mayor, told local journalists in early February.

Since the fire, the local government has demolished 262,600 square-metres of factory buildings deemed to pose excessive safety risks, and ordered their 5,585 shoemakers to rebuild the factories to meet adequate safety standards.

So far, about 50% of these businesses have received government approvals to restart operations.

According to the new regulation, existing shoe factories located in private apartments must expand their area to at least 100 square-metres, and new factories are no longer allowed to rent private apartments for production.