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Beijing won't restrict private car purchase
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Beijing will not restrict the purchase of private cars, as was purposed by residents, to help ease traffic jams and stem pollution, a senior official said on Wednesday.

City authorities will not limit the number of license plates issued to reduce car purchases, said Wang Haiping, deputy head of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform at a press conference.

He said it would be an irresponsible move while China is trying to boost domestic consumption to offset impacts from the global financial crisis.

"It's inappropriate to restrict car purchases or license plate issuing to control the total number of vehicles. We need to take into account the overall situation of boosting domestic demand and maintaining steady, rapid economic growth. We need to maintain long-term development of the country's auto industry and citizens' expectations to improve their livelihoods after becoming more wealthy," Wang said.

Instead, city authorities would rely on boosting construction of the urban mass transit system and other forms of public transport to solve Beijing's traffic issues, he said.

Currently, Beijing has eight subway lines with 200 km of track.

The city government plans to spend 90 billion yuan (13.2 billion US dollars) on the construction of more lines within the next two years, increasing the total length to 300 km by 2010, Wang said.

The latest government statistics show that Beijing, a city of 16 million residents, has about 3.5 million vehicles. In addition, about 1,200 new vehicles take to the roads everyday.

Wang's remarks were in response to citizen calls to control the number of vehicles in the city to ease traffic and reduce pollution.

Some residents wanted to keep an alternating car ban imposed during the Olympics and Paralympics which took nearly 2 million cars of the roads for two months. It helped eliminate 120,000 tons of pollutants emitted by vehicles, or about 63 percent of total vehicular pollutant emissions before the ban.

Wang said a new traffic restriction, which went into effect in the Chinese capital on October 11, should satisfy residents concerns.

Under the new ban, 70 percent of government vehicles, as well as all corporate and private cars, take turns staying off the roads one day during the five day workweek.

It takes some 800,000 cars off the road everyday, according to the Beijing Municipal Committee of Communications.

(Xinhua News Agency November 19, 2008)

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