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Limit on private cars questioned
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-09 09:25

It is unreasonable for the government to address the transportation resource shortage problem by discouraging individuals from buying new cars, said an editorial in China Youth Daily. An excerpt follows:

Traffic congestion on Beijing's third ring road is shown in this October 22, 2003 file photo. [newsphoto]

Recently, China's National Reform and Development Commission released an energy-saving guide for the medium and long term. Among an array of policy proposals, one says big cities should limit private cars.

According to the document, buying private cars shall be explicitly discouraged in favour of buses, subways and bicycles, because they exploit too much transportation resource.

Yet this argument sounds preposterous in many aspects.

It is not quite in tune with the burgeoning "car boom" China is experiencing right now. The contributions of the automobile industry to the national economy have pushed more and more places to join the national zeal for car making.

If the idea of curbing private cars will be put into practice, who will buy all these cars? And what shall the car owners do with the cars they have already bought?

Furthermore, if the restriction only applies to private cars but not to government vehicles, the problem of acute transportation resources shortage will still not be solved.

In addition, if the restriction only affects would-be car purchasers but not present car owners, transportation resources would be enjoyed exclusively by a small group of people, mainly from the upper echelons of society - entrepreneurs or white-collar elites.

It is necessary to adopt reasonable and necessary policies to limit private cars, as ours is a resource-shortage society. The crux is to ensure impartiality and universality are carefully observed.

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