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Beijingers celebrate Lunar New Year driving around China
( 2004-01-21 14:14) (Xinhua)

Wang Shuli, a young woman working in Beijing, plans to drive around during the Spring Festival, China's Lunar New Year which falls on Jan. 22, when hordes of Chinese return home for family gatherings.

Wang, who has been driving for three years, has just bought a new car. She wants to drive around Shanxi Province, north China, to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

According to a plan of the Beijing-based Youlujun Drivers Club, organizer of the motoring tour of Shanxi, Wang and dozens of other motorists will drive 3,500 kilometers from Jan. 22 and Jan. 24 to visit scenic areas and enjoy the culture of Shanxi.

As a result of rapid economic development, many Chinese have realized their dream of having a car of their own as their incomes increase markedly.

In Beijing, the number of private cars topped 1 million late last year.

In tandem with the increase in the number of private cars, motoring activities have become very popular among individual car owners in the Chinese capital.

With 150,000 members, the Beijing-based Dalu Auto Club launched motor traveling in 1997.

"Each year, we organize five to six such activities and each time, we have 50 to 80 participants," said Gao Feng, a program manager with the Dalu Auto Club.

Besides people like Miss Wang who drive their own cars to travel around China, there are more people renting a car to travel.

China has 14 million motor vehicles, but the number of people with driving licenses is over 40 million. More than 2 million people in Beijing, one sixth of the city's population, have driving licenses.

A survey of a dozen Beijing-based taxi companies showed all their mid-grade cars had been rented by local residents who plan to drive around China during the Lunar New Year.

The increasing demand for motor traveling has also prompted many travel agencies to set up drivers' clubs and operate motoring businesses. Some name brand auto manufacturers have also established motoring clubs.


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