Beijing's Drivers Can Breathe Easy. Kindof

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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  • GS650G GS650G on Jan 10, 2010

    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.

  • GS650G GS650G on Jan 10, 2010
    @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.

  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Jan 10, 2010

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

    • GS650G GS650G on Jan 10, 2010

      I was on the outskirts a bit in Nakano-ku. Still outrageous by most standards.

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jan 10, 2010

    CyCarConsulting, The San Francisco Chronicle ( 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.

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    • Areitu Areitu on Jan 10, 2010

      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.