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Chinese Consumers Wonder When to Buy Cars
Physical education teacher Liu Jianshe of a Beijing middle school went to the auto show at the weekend. "All my neighbors said the show was full of famous and beautiful cars. As for when to buy my own car, I think I had better wait," he said.

Visitors flooded into the exhibition hall of the seventh Beijing Auto Show. Among them, only a few wanted to buy cars rightnow.

Zhang Qingyun, who lives in eastern Beijing, planned to buy a car early this year. But when he saw prices frequently dropping, he couldn't make up his mind.

The continual fall in car prices has not only attracted consumers, but also kept them waiting endlessly for the lowest price.

Recently, the makers of Geely cars announced a model at the rock-bottom price of 29,900 yuan (about US$3,600). Xiali,Fukang and other brands followed suit.

"High prices are a barrier to a family owning a car. Price reductions will be a trend. When consumers have low incomes, the price of a car is vital," said Li Jingsheng, a car expert.

"There is some gap between Chinese and international car prices.Now China has become a WTO member, prices will go down, but it takes time," said Chen Huai, an expert with the Development Research Center of the State Council.

Besides price, the conditions for owning a car constitutes another major factor that concern car fans in China. "It is more expensive to keep a car than buy a car. I prefer taking a taxi instead," said Jin Taoran, a local worker.

"There are so many luxury cars in the auto show. Comparatively speaking, there are fewer for ordinary people," said Li Zhengyong,a retired worker.

Li is typical of hundreds of thousands of Chinese consumers whoare under economic pressure from housing, medical and education reforms. Although they have enough savings for a car, they cannot spend them all. Experts have called for an improved social security system so people can afford household cars.

Authorities have acknowledged that the wait for consumers will end only when the government, manufacturers and consumers find solutions together.

(Xinhua News Agency June 10, 2002)


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