Beijing tries to alleviate traffic jams

Beijing, October 21:

Beijing is urging people to take public transport to reduce the Chinese capital’s traffic congestion during an upcoming gathering of African leaders, state media reported today, part of a charm offensive to burnish China’s image in Africa.

The capital’s Communist Party leadership went over detailed preparations yesterday for next month’s China-Africa summit, discussing everything from security to what to put on advertising billboards, the city-run Beijing Daily reported.

“All facets of work must be conscientiously done to a standard, first-rate level to let our foreign guests feel the Chinese people’s warmth and friendship,” the newspaper quoted Mayor Wang Qishan as telling the meeting.

Traffic police will have to cordon off lanes of major streets for official motorcades and so Beijingers “should try hard to take public transport,” the newspaper said.

The appeal for public cooperation underscores the importance China is placing on the November 2-5 summit and offers a preview of how Beijing is likely to handle the 2008 Olympics. Both events are considered prime image-building opportunities by Chinese leaders.