Beijing to ban a million cars in clean air test
Beijing is planning to ban a million cars from the city's streets for two weeks next month as a test-run to ensure clean air at next year's Olympics, officials said in Beijingon Wednesday.
"The plan has been drawn up and is ready to go," said Fan Yinlong, a city government spokesman, referring to a range of measures that will include the ban on one million cars in notoriously polluted Beijing from August 7-20.
That two-week period is crucial to Olympic planners, as it roughly coincides with the time that the Games will be held next year, from August 8-24.
Beijing will also host 11 Olympic test events during the fortnight, including cycling road races, wrestling, hockey and beach volleyball.
Beijing has spent around $15 billion on a massive pollution clean-up in the run-up to the Olympics, according to city officials, but air quality remains a key concern.
Despite assurances from the Chinese government, International Olympic Committee leaders have expressed deep concern about the problem and demanded "contingency measures" to contain the pollution threat.
Beijing Olympic organising committee spokeswoman Zhu Jing also confirmed that the traffic ban was being prepared as part of the one-year countdown test program.
Zhu said the plan to remove one million of Beijing's three million cars was inspired by a similar campaign that proved effective during a China-Africa summit hosted by Beijing last year.
"Air quality was better, and traffic congestion improved," she said.
Zhu said the measures would be officially announced once they are approved by the People's Congress on July 24.