By on January 9, 2010

Beijing’s drivers can get off their anti-anxiety medication. Beijing’s government has decided that Beijingers can go forth and buy as many cars as they desire. Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform spokesperson Zhao Lei said that Beijing will not take administrative measures to restrain residents from buying automobiles, People’s Daily reports.

In October 2009, Liu Xiaoming, director of the Beijing municipal committee of communications had predicted that annual new car registrations will drop to 300,000 in the coming years, down from 400,000 currently. On hearing the pronouncement, panic set in amongst Beijing’s drivers. They feared, China’s capital could copy what Shanghai is doing. In Shanghai, there is only a set number of new license plates available (between 5000 and 6000 a month) and they are auctioned off. A plate costs more than a small car.

The remarks triggered a run on car dealerships. On December 18, 2009, the number of registered vehicles in Beijing exceeded 4m units. One in four Beijingers owns a car. There are 66 automobiles for every 100 households in Beijing, an absolute record in China. Across China, there are only some 60 cars per thousand people.

So how will Beijing deal with the unencumbered car buying and the resulting traffic congestion? With moderate measures: Beijing might raise the (ridiculously low) parking fees downtown, and will build more subways.

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18 Comments on “Beijing’s Drivers Can Breathe Easy. Kindof...”


  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    In Providence, RI, an old city with narrow streets and a ban on street parking during snow removal periods, a resident has to have an off-street parking space to buy a car.  Congested roads in Beijing are only part of the problem. I assume Beijing has a multitude of apartments. Where are all these cars going to park?

  • avatar

    In all of  Japan, you can only buy a car if you have proof of a parking space.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Hi Bertel,

    Sounds to me like they will still need the meds, but this time for claustrophobically-induced anxiety, with perhaps an anti-road-rage chaser as an add-on!

  • avatar
    mpresley

    People used to “large” US cities are shocked at the size of these Asian monsters once they get there and actually start to move around.  Especially when you consider population density per area.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    Reading this makes me proud to be an American. (Contrary to some U.S. posters I’m ALWAYS proud to be an American.) It feels good knowing my elected officials would NEVER try to limit my freedom to drive a car or place restrictions on my choice of automobiles. Oh wait….

    • 0 avatar

      I’m ultra proud of America.

      After all, we are the only country that uses remote controlled drones to drop remote controlled bombs on people (and anyone who happens to be near them) and later on have the audacity to call them “terrorists”.

  • avatar
    redrum

    Between all the car & factory emissions and rampant smoking , I don’t think it’s possible to “breathe easy” anywhere in China.

  • avatar

    Being an American citizen is a big responsibility. We have it good here, but if too many of us take it for granted, and fail to educate ourselves about issues, we will lose our rights, our civil society, etc.
    @redrum: Yes, I’m very grateful I don’t have to breathe in China.

  • avatar
    CyCarConsulting

    Every visit to China leaves me with a sore throat from the first day until a few days back in the states. The smog is horrendous and the congestion worse. Cars go in all directions with no regard to lanes while dicing in and out of scooters loaded with goods and entire families. Buses and trucks snake there way through as well, and to think there will be more and more cars on the road is mind boggling, to say the least.

    • 0 avatar

      tell me about it.

      Last time I was in Shanghai, as soon as I got off the plane (with its perfect, filtered, cool air)  I smelled “burning” – ash and coal and had a sickening sensation. Sure enough I spent the next week sick and had to buy cheap iced tea  to heat up at night so I could soothe my throat.

      Putting thousands of cars on the road each day is going to DESTROY these people’s health. Its funny, people are so worried about Global Warming, they are neglecting Nitrous Oxide, Carbon monoxide, and other fumes poisoning.

      Oil contains carcinogens  and China still burns both oil and coal (dirty) to heat buildings. Lung cancer is probably going to be on the rise there.

  • avatar

    CyCarConsulting: What you see is just the beginning.  At least, the air is getting a bit better, well, in Beijing it is. Despite a cold snap that has all power plants working overtime, the nightly sky over Beijing is clear, and I can see the blinking lights of the TV tower, some 30 km from here. There is a tang of burned brown coal in the air, but nothing that attacks throats or sinuses. If you want to see how China will deal with the traffic, then you have to go to Hong Kong or Tokyo: Elevated roads, sometimes stacked several levels high. Also helps in disciplining drivers. They surely drive like mad here.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    in Tokyo, I had to get a rental agreement for a parking place (about 300 US a month) before I could register a car. It was a separate lease agreement and showed a crude map of where it was, the size, etc.
    The parking space was almost as much as the lease on the Toyota.

  • avatar
    GS650G


    @Flashpoint,
    I’m ultra proud of America.
    After all, we are the only country that uses remote controlled drones to drop remote controlled bombs on people (and anyone who happens to be near them) and later on have the audacity to call them “terrorists”.

    Take this over to Huffingtons or DU, we don’t need this kind of stuff here.

  • avatar

    $300 a month is cheap. Downtown, spaces go for $1000 and more.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    CyCarConsulting, The San Francisco Chronicle (sfgate.com) has a feature on the look of the city in 1905. The article mentions a movie taken from the front of a streetcar moving down Market Street, and describes the traffic as chaotic, with cars, horse-drawn wagons and pedestrians moving in all directions.  If you view that movie in YouTube (sorry, no link), you may conclude that it’s very similar to what you see in China today. They’re just 100 years behind us in traffic control, but the predominance of cars will change that quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      CyCarConsulting

      Funny you mention that. I’ve seen it and sent it to the activists against running the next Metro rail down surface streets here in L.A.  It really hits home.

    • 0 avatar
      Areitu

      When I was there a few years ago, I found out they have more auto accidents than the US, with 1/3rd the miles of roads. Driving in China is also terrifying. Chinese drivers tend to ignore lines and drive in the center of the road if nobody is in front of them.


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