China moves to cut traffic
FOR thousands of hopeful commuters in China’s capital, 2011 started with a click, not a bang.
Residents wanting to snap up Beijing car licence-plate numbers under a quota system aimed at easing paralysing traffic logged on to a website launched at the dawn of the New Year.
Within 10 minutes, 6000 people had successfully claimed a new plate number, the Beijing Daily newspaper reported.
The new system aims to reduce the number of cars in the notoriously gridlocked capital.
The city will allow only 240,000 new car registrations in 2011 — two-thirds less than last year — and is parceling them out via the monthly online lottery.
Beijing now has 4.7 million vehicles, compared with 2.6 million in 2005.
A global survey conducted last year by IBM said the city is tied with Mexico City for the world’s worst commute. Worries are growing that Beijing is choking itself for future growth as short for ‘‘Beijing Haiyao Yongdu’’ — meaning ‘‘Beijing Will Still Be Gridlocked’’.
Meanwhile, the booming car sales that threaten to unravel China’s burgeoning economic tapestry are set to slow.
International strategy consultancy Roland Berger sees China’s annual car sales exceeding 18 million units by 2015, then beginning to brake.
Mr Berger said 2010 sales would be 11.6 million vehicles— up 35 per cent on 2009— and although growth will continue, it will be at a slower rate.
He said China would be strengthened over the next five years by sustained economic growth and rising household disposable income.
Chinese authorities say concern that the economy may overheat, causing a rise in inflation, has led to new measures that include restrictions on car sales for 2011.
A report from Chinese newspaper Shanghai Securities News said as many as 80 out of 420 franchised car dealers in Beijing would go out of