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Chinese Mayor Urges Residents to Stop Buying Cars

The mayor of one of China's showpiece economic cities has urged his 11 million residents to stop buying cars in a bid to ease worsening traffic and pollution woes, state media reported Friday.

The booming southern city of Shenzhen, just across from the border from Hong Kong, now has more than one million cars, with 90,000 new cars registered already this year, the English-language China Daily reported.

"Stop buying cars," Xu Zongheng, the city's mayor was quoted as saying, adding that people were buying vehicles "too quickly."

"Problems arising from the city's traffic are mounting. I hope residents take this into consideration when planning to buy cars."

Xu emphasised that the annual growth rate of cars was 18.6 percent, which outpaced road construction, leading to ever-increasing traffic.

"And about 70 percent of the city's air pollution is caused by exhaust fumes," he said.

Shenzhen was a tiny fishing village in 1979 when it was singled out by China's leader Deng Xiaoping for reform as a "Special Economic Zone" to lure much-needed foreign investment into the country's industrial sector.

By 2006, its factories produced exports worth 136 billion dollars, the highest of any Chinese city for the 14th straight year, according to official figures.

Many cities across China are experiencing similar traffic problems to Shenzhen.

In Beijing, officials announced this week that one million of the city's three million cars would be taken off the road for a two-week trial period in August in an effort to temporarily clean the city's notoriously polluted air.

The experiment is a test run for next year's Beijing Olympics, when the partial car ban and other measures will be employed to ensure athletes do not experience the pollution that the city's residents normally live through.


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