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Updated: 2013-11-06 07:07
( China Daily)

Target cars for better air

I commend the newspaper for giving air pollution in Beijing the attention it deserves. The articles highlighted how air pollution discourages Chinese white collar workers and foreign expatriate families with children from working in Beijing. This will hinder the economic development of Beijing, as large Chinese enterprises and global multinationals may choose to relocate to Shanghai or Shenzhen.

However, although air pollution is harmful, we should also admit that the heavy industries also enable economic growth and provide jobs that ensure social harmony. Among developing countries, China has done the best job of avoiding the instability of youth unemployment (although the number of middle class careers available to university graduates is another issue). Any measures that will make it more costly to operate a factory and lead to layoffs must be carefully considered.

By being careful I mean that before imposing stricter air pollution standards on industries in Hebei and Beijing, car ownership in Beijing should be targeted, since cars are one of the main sources of pollution. Parking fees should be increased; a congestion fee should be levied on cars entering the city center; and new car registrations should be strictly rationed and auctioned. These measures will reduce the number of cars in Beijing and help clear the air. National authorities should also consider imposing high taxes on larger cars so that the small cars will become the standard sized vehicle in China, as they are in Europe. That way the car industry and the people they employ can continue to thrive.

Li Tao, via e-mail

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(China Daily 11/06/2013 page9)

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