Tianjin is the latest major Chinese city to issue guidelines to restrict new car sales. Political pressure is slowing mounting on Beijing over the environment with about one quarter of all protests being about environmental issues.
Tianjin is the port that services Beijing and is home to more than 10 million people. The charming former colonial treaty port with a waterside promenade second only to Shanghai’s Bund, has given way to endless kilometers of ugly high rise and its infrastructure is now cracking under the weight of fleets of new vehicles.
The issue of China’s appalling environmental degradation and the massive measures being instituted to overcome it are the subject of The Economists latest cover, naming China the world’s worst polluter
It’s hard to know whether the upgrade in metro subway spending nationwide to 4 trillion yuan is linked to China’s growing car issue but it will at least help.
Tianjin will become the latest in a string of cities to restrict automobile purchases. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Guiyang have already limited car buying and two months ago, the government of Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province, announced it would prohibit families from buying a third car starting at the end of this year, Car News China website said.
The city government vowed to prevent the number of cars on the road from exceeding 1.9 million this year and to keep it to a maximum of 2.1 million by the end of 2015.
Last month, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers told the media that more cities including Chonggqing, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Qingdao and Wuhan are likely to adopt similar policies.
Yet China is now the world’s largest auto market and car sales across China were up 9.9 percent compared to the previous year adding 1.51 million vehicles to the country’s roads. Cars are a key plank in the government domestic consumption story yet add to the potentially fatal problem of China’s pollution.
Yet another curly one for the country’s policymakers.