China’s E-ferendums

How to Fairly Limit the Traffic on Beijing Roads?

In this article we introduced China’s E-feredums, a mechanism where both central and local Governments use social media platforms to “test the waters” before passing pending legislation into law. Much like the British referendum, they are of course non binding, and no Government can ever please or satisfy everyone. But in most cases,

the end result does tend to reflect the general : “will of the people.”

This particular example come via Caixin Global and revolves around the highly controversial and thorny issue of motor vehicles in Beijing. How to limit and be fair, or seen to be, at the same time!

Trending in China: Families Jump the Queue For Beijing Car License Plates, Setting Off Debate

By Yilin Chen / Jun 03, 2020 06:07 PM / Business & Tech

What’s trending?

The Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport is soliciting public comments on a set of draft reforms to its vehicle license plate quota scheme. Beijing limits the number of license plates it issues, as a way of controlling the city’s traffic. The vast majority of license plates are issued either through public auctions or lottery schemes.

Under the proposed revisions, members of a family, including spouses, parents, and children, can file a joint application to enter the license plate lottery system if no one else in the family owns a car. A complex formula assigns a number to each family based on the number of family members and the length of time each individual has been waiting in the lottery pool. The higher the score, the higher their chance of winning the lottery (Source: People’s Daily).

What’s the story?

Beijing has been using the lottery system to allocate vehicles since 2011. Winners are announced bimonthly, and receive permission to purchase either a conventional, gasoline-powered vehicle or an electric car (Source: China Daily). Many people have been waiting in the lottery pool for years.

The new draft, released on June 1, will prioritize families who have yet to gain a license plate. In the pool for conventional vehicles, these families will have significantly higher chances of winning the lottery than individual applicants. Families with no previous license plates will also receive preferential treatment with regards to license plates for new energy cars. (Source: China Times).

The move is meant to address the issue that some individuals and families own multiple cars, while other families, with 2 or 3 generations living under the same roof, have none. The inequality is thought to have given rise to underground transactions involving the illegal sale or rental of license plates (Source: Economic Observer).

What are people saying online?

Heated debate has erupted on Weibo. While some people support the intention behind the proposal, most people have voiced their opposition to its implementation. Most notably, single people who have waited for many years in the lottery pool complain that the rearrangement of new energy car quotas leaves them with barely any chance. One user writes, “so I don’t deserve a car if I’m not married?”


Others argue that the policy fails to address more pressing problems in the license plate quota system. One person suggested that officials should rescind all Beijing license plates owned by people from other provinces, restrict university students from entering the lottery system, and allow couples who are both from Beijing to purchase a car without a lottery. Others doubt the fundamental efficacy of a quota system.


Contact editor Marcus Ryder (

Thanks for reading our China news, marketing, tech and social media article – we hope it was useful, relative, informative, valuable.

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Whatever your question re Chinese Business, Marketing Tech or Social Media, she will know the answer, or know someone who does! A brief intro below;


In 2003 Everlyne Yu co-founded WPBeijing Marketing Studio with Englishman Peter Bic, now known as Bic Brands.

She began Uengager, a company focused on customer engagement, as a SaaS MarTech company in 2017.

Hello, Nihao, I’m Everlyne

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Everlyne hs been privileged to work with a variety of international organisations, from VW, Cushman Wakefield, Sodexo, Bristol Myers Squibb to local Chinese firms such as Midea, and OK Order.

If you’re looking for guidance, tips, advice on any aspect of starting or growing a business in China or training, coaching your existing China marketing team for excellence, be sure to check out Uengager. Home page and base for Everlyne Yu. Read her short bio – opposite left – or contact her direct – below – for a free, heart to heart chat.

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A selection of Bicyu clients since 2003


Published by The Bic

Bicyu is a NZ registered, British owned MarTech business based in Beijing providing marketing, tech, education and information services to European, NZ, Australian, UK, African, and Asian firms doing business in China. We work with local ones too. We've been here doing this since 2003. We also incorporate Aim2D and Uengager in our small brand list.

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