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Beijing set to limit car license plates for clean air

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Shanghai, September 27, 2008 ( Beijing is taking new measures to keep the Chinese capital's air clean and traffic smooth as seen during the Olympic season. According to the new series of traffic rules, only 100,000 vehicle license plates will be issued each year in the capital city, and that means half of car dealers in Beijing will go out of business, said today.

As part of the emergency steps for the 2008 Olympics, the even-odd license plate number regulations to keep alternatively half vehicles off Beijing's roads from July 20 to September 20 brought clean air and blue sky to the city for two months, and raised public hopes for a permanent improvement. Those steps reduced levels of most major pollutants in Beijing by about half, but now Beijing residents are worried the old levels of smog will return.

The post-Olympics measures for pollution control will include increasing parking fees to discourage driving, charging people to drive in congested downtown areas, expanding the public transit system, and more notably, issuing a limited number license plates to keep some new cars off the roads.

Sources familiar with the new policies said only 100,000 car plates will be issued annually to car owners in Beijing in the coming years. If this measure is implemented, the vehicle sales in the city will sharply decrease, and about half of the auto dealers in Beijing will have to close their stores.

Meanwhile, the Beijing government plans to retire early about 10% of the city's older, more polluting cars because they don't meet current emissions standards. The 300,000 cars produced about half of Beijing's auto emissions.

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