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English>>China Society

Guangzhou car restrictions spark debate


08:08, August 29, 2012

GUANGZHOU, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- China's southern metropolis of Guangzhou began to limit car registrations through a license plate lottery and auction this week, triggering concerns over the fairness and validity of the policy.

In order to treat the worsening problems of traffic and air pollution, Guangzhou announced last month that it would allocate the city's annual 120,000 new car registration quota through the lottery and auction models.

A total of 5,640 applicants were awarded plates at Monday's lottery, and the average bid for a license plate for a private car stood at 22,822 yuan (3,622.54 U.S. dollars) after the auction on Tuesday.

Some celebrated the policy, calling it a timely remedy for the city's traffic woes, while others have complained that the restriction fosters inequality.

"Zhongchewang" wrote on Sina Weibo, a micro-blogging site, that the car restriction improves traffic at the expense of the people's rights to own and use cars.

"The license plate auction is a mechanism in favor of the better-off, which is unfair to ordinary consumers," wrote "Jinming."

Beijing ushered in the license plate lottery scheme in January last year, and Shanghai started the license plate auction in 2000.

The winning rate for Beijing's car registration lottery dropped to less than 2 percent in August, with more than 1.05 million applicants vying for only 19,926 plates.

The average bid for a plate in this month's auction in Shanghai was 62,559 yuan, up 4,400 yuan month on month.

Chen Rugui, deputy mayor of Guangzhou, said traffic congestion and the city's rapid growth in car ownership have forced the government to come up with the restriction.

In May, the city had a total of 2.405 million auto units, 2.5 times the number five years ago, marking an annual growth rate of 19 percent, according to the local government.

Meanwhile, many have also been critical about the effects the license plate lottery and auction will have on improving traffic.

"James1968" wrote on Sina Weibo that the lottery and auction policy is just a temporary solution, and the root cause of gridlock is flawed road planning and inefficient transportation management.

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