China / Government

New year sees clear horizon

By ZHU ZHE/CAO YIN (China Daily) Updated: 2016-01-01 07:18

As we bid farewell to one year and greet the next, it's the time to make resolutions. Beijing resident Peng Min is no exception.

After deliberating for two days, she wrote the following on her New Year calendar:

Annual Task No 1: To buy a second car, an electric one.

Annual Task No 2: To have a second child.

"We need a new car as we're prepared for a bigger family," said Peng, mother of a 6-year-old girl. "I'm already 36 and there's not much time to waste."

Timing may be on her side as she might be among the first group of people in the capital to benefit from a law that takes effect on Jan 1 which allows couples in China to have two children.

The law, passed on Dec 27, ended China's decades-old one-child policy as the country is trying to have a more balanced population structure.

Regarding transport, Peng said she wants a new car with a license plate ending with an odd number, because her existing car has a 6 as its last number. Smog red alerts reduce the number of cars on the city's streets through odd and even number days.

"In the past four weeks, we've encountered two red alerts, and there might be more ahead. Some of my friends are considering moving, but I cannot," said Peng, a civil servant.

She said a new-energy car would be ideal because it's "so hard" to get the license plate for a gas-fueled one through the lottery system.

"Electric cars might be easier (to get a license), and they're clean. We're already suffering a lot from dirty air, and I'm willing to do what I can to help ease it."

Media reports said the municipal government is likely to cut its current annual quota of 90,000 gas-fueled cars to 60,000.

In the lottery in late December, only 0.49 percent of the applicants, or one out of more than every 200, won.

But there's no limit for new-energy car buyers at the moment, which means that all the applicants for electric cars can get a license, as the city is promoting the use of clean energy.

And residents like Peng might get some relief as the country's new Air Pollution Control Law, which tightens controls on emissions from vehicles and requires higher fuel quality, will also take effect on Jan 1.

The new amendment, which was approved by the top legislature in late August, also adds local government liability for air pollution control and stipulates higher fines for violators.

Yang Weidong, a law professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said although the new law's implementation would be difficult because stricter measures may further slow the economy, he's still confident that the law will bring many positive changes in the coming year.

Another rule taking effect on Jan 1 that will benefit hundreds of millions of people is the new regulation on the temporary residence permit. Migrants who have lived in a city for more than half a year could apply for the permit and enjoy social benefits, such as public health services.

Chen Limin, a 49-year-old laid-off worker from Jilin province who works as a baby-sitter in Beijing, said she's encouraging some of her former colleagues to work with her in the capital because of the high salary-about 6,000 yuan ($926) a month-and easier life.

And it's good news for Peng as well as it might be easier for her to find a reliable nanny-something that nowadays really is a lottery.

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