Critics fire at congestion tax proposal

Updated: 2015-07-24 21:22

By Nie Ligao(

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Critics fire at congestion tax proposal
Masses of vehicles move slowly on a highway during a traffic jam in Beijing, China, on January 18, 2014.[Photo/IC]

A former official's suggestions about taxation to prevent congestion drew massive opposition in the media this Friday. Qiu Baoxing, a former vice-minister of housing and urban-rural development in China, proposed in a forum held in Guangzhou that Guangzhou should follow London's tax-adjustment model to prevent traffic jams since the Southern Chinese city has three times the population of London.

"Reform and innovation are worth the risk. The issue that everyone can understand and support is called fashion, not reform," Qiu said.

London imposed the tax on its downtown areas since 2003 and saw improving traffic conditions following its implementation.

The statement was reported on Thursday and an avalanche of opposition ensued on Friday as the proposal struck a nerve with the public. Here are some opinions from the press. One critic surnamed Tao claims on the Beijing News that we need to first improve our public transportation system to meet the basic requirements of the residents. Without a sound public transport network, the congestion fee would only make the city more dysfunctional.

Design flaws by the local governments are to blame for the current traffic situation, a commentator expressed on China Youth Daily. "We should not let the public bear the blame for the government's faults."

In the early 2010, the congestion fee was proposed as one major measure to deal with Beijing's traffic problems. Besides, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hangzhou also issued similar draft legislation to test the reaction of the populace but had to abandon the plan due to strong opposition from the whole society.

Optimizing the current traffic network should be the first choice for the local government policymakers, instead of levying a tax, a scholar writes for the New Express Daily, a paper based in Guangzhou.

"Even London's experiences also show that the positive consequences of the congestion tax were phased out after four years," Tao explained. "Guangzhou and other Chinese cities should have a serious discussion from all walks of lifebefore making a final decision on the traffic fee."