[sustran] The Automobile in Chinese Cities: a (geo)political issue?

jean-francois doulet jfdoulet at yahoo.com
Fri Aug 8 23:59:36 JST 2003


I would like to react to the paper from People's daily
that Paul Barter sent us.

The difference we note in the way the automobile issue
is managed by Beijing and Shanghai is indeed very
interesting to analyze.

To understand this contrast we should take into
consideration at least two aspects : 

1/ the decentralized decision process in China has an
impact on the automobile sector. Despite a national
strategy to reorganize the automobile industry, the
automobile sector still suffers in China from a lack
of cohesion. Every local authorities wants to get its
own automobile industry and when they succeed they try
to protect it through commercial tools. Even if things
are changing, we still note a strong presence of
Santana taxis in Shanghai where VW has set up its JV
and a very strond presence of ZX taxis in Wuhan where
Citroën has its factory...Along with those commercial
measures go along more local measures related to
purchase of automobiles, parking policy, support to
investment in public transport, etc. All this explain
the differences in the relationship between cities and
automobile in China.

For those who can read french, here are the references
of two papers I wrote on this topic : 

- DOULET, JF, "L’automobile dans les métropoles
chinoises. Comprendre les nouveaux enjeux de la
mobilité urbaine" (The Automobile in Chinese
Metropoles. How to Understand The New Challenges of
Urban Mobility). Paris : 2001 Plus, n°60. 2002. 23-34.

- DOULET, JF and JIN, MJ, "Le marché automobile
chinois : vingt ans d’évolution" (The Chinese
Automobile Market: an Evolution of 20 Years), in
Dupuy, G. and Bost, F., eds. L’automobile et son monde
(The Automobile and Its World).  La Tour d’Aigues:
Edition de l’Aube, 2000.  181-192.

For those who can read chinese : 

-DOULET, JF, 1998, "Zhongguo Qiche Fazhan Tiaozhan
Chengshi" (Automobile Development in China Challenges
Cities), Beijing : Qiche yu Shehui (Automobile and
Society), Oct. 1998. 12-16.

2/ Beijing, as the capital city of China, has a a very
specific position in the political and institutional
framework of the country. Obviously, the automobile
industry in China has been a hot topic those last 10
years. In the first half of the 90s, national support
in favor the development of a national automobile
industry based on the demand from the domestic market
was a key element to understand why Beijing is today
more motorized than any other cities in China. The
reason is quite simple : Beijing, as the capital city,
was never allowed to take measures that could have had
a negative effects on the purchase of automobiles. Why
? Because Beijing is by essence a "modele city" in
China : if Beijing would have been allowed to apply
measures to put quotas on the purchase of automobiles
then every cities in China would have seen a sign that
they could have done so.

For those who are interested and who can read french,
I recently published a book with a colleague in which
I develop this topic: 

- DOULET, JF and FLONNEAU, M, Paris-Pékin, civiliser
l'automobile (Paris-Beijing, civilizing the
automobile), Paris : Edition Descartes et compagnie,

In this book (I hope that we'll be able to publish an
english version soon...) we try to compare the
automobilisation process in Paris and Beijing in
emphasizing on the specific position of those two
cities as capital cities. 

Don't hesitate to contact me. I would be glad to give
more information : jfdoulet at yahoo.com

Jean-Francois Doulet, PhD
Paris Institute of Political Studies, Lecturer

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