Chinese Media Digest - Thursday, January 3 Published: 2013-1-3 18:29:08

Keywords: Media calls to hit brakes on 'yellow light' rule, Spending cuts loom after 'fiscal cliff' deal, say analysts


Media calls to hit brakes on 'yellow light' rule

Chinese drivers face harsher penalties for running yellow lights after a new traffic rule went into effect on Tuesday, with many already having since been penalized.

According to the revision, drivers now stand to lose six penalty points from their licenses for running yellow lights, twice the previous fine.

If drivers are docked 12 points within a year, they are required to attend a week-long training class and take a written exam before being allowed back on the road.

The "yellow light rule", one of 52 traffic violations that carry penalties, stirred nationwide debate among media and drivers over its flaws and ways to improve it.

China Youth Daily ran a front page story on Thursday, listing five reasons why the public should cast doubt on the rule, among which it is physically difficult for drivers to stop immediately after a yellow light simply due to inertia.

Besides a possible increase in accidents owing to the lack of countdown clocks at many intersections, the report also held that the purpose of yellow lights is more for buffering traffic flow.

The article also suggested the new regulation would force many drivers to drive excessively cautious, resulting in more traffic. The paper pointed out this counteracts an upper law that states the purpose of yellow lights is to warn drivers of a changing light and not forbid them from crossing an intersection.

Media commentator Tao Duanfang wrote in an opinion piece for the Beijing News on Thursday saying that most Chinese drivers have developed the bad habit of speeding up at yellow lights and resorting to pulling the emergency brake if they get caught behind a red light.

At the same time, Tao said that the new rule may be overcorrecting those bad habits.

"It is most urgent to foster the habit of slowing down at intersections, especially at yellow lights, instead of just punishing those who run them," said Tao.

Southern Metropolis Daily commented in an editorial on Wednesday that the public outcry over the new traffic regulation, dubbed by net users as "the strictest traffic rule ever," should alert authorities to not resort to one blanket rule in dealing with every case.

The editorial held that traffic and transportation watchdogs should also solicit public opinion before releasing a regulation to make it easier to be carried out.

Echoing the Southern Metropolis Daily, the Sichuan-based West China City Daily suggested that cities should follow the example of the Shenzhen city government and suspend the new rule and fine tune the details before executing.

Spending cuts loom after 'fiscal cliff' deal, say analysts

Spending cuts to top the highly incendiary debates between US Democrats and Republicans sure to follow after Congress edged away from the "fiscal cliff" with a deal on Tuesday in Washington, staving off a possible global recession, said analysts.

US Congress finally muddled through the "fiscal cliff" with a bipartisan plan, which proposes putting off spending cuts, raising taxes among the wealthy and extending tax cuts to most US families.

CRI Online commented in a report on Thursday that the bill "increased investor confidence as was shown in the surging US stock market on January 2, the first trading day of 2013."

However, it has not totally steered the US economy off the cliff by compromising on tax increases or dragging the deadline for spending cuts another two months. On the contrary, it may add $4 trillion to the current massive US debt over the next decade, said the report, adding that debates over spending cuts will be unavoidable.

The report held that Republicans have already expressed their dissatisfaction with the absence of spending cuts and their concession of tax increases, but "it would be more difficult for the two parties to reach another agreement on which sectors should reduce their expenditures," said CRI Online.

Similarly, Guo Xiangang, the director of China Institute of International Studies, called the bill a "soft landing" for the US economy during an interview with China National Radio.

Guo held that whether the two parties can address the gridlock on spending cuts is the key factor in averting future financial woes of the world's largest economy.

People's Daily ran a report on Wednesday saying that "people who are familiar with US politics and policymaking usually do not believe that the "fiscal cliff" would cause a substantial recession to the US economy or even world economic growth in the long term," according to Gao Cheng, an associate researcher on Asia-Pacific issues at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"In their struggle for power, either Republicans or Democrats are willing to let the nation's economy fall off the cliff, because they know that both the US voters and lawmakers will not let it come true to pass" said Gao.

"In the end, the two parties will compromise on thorny issues, such as the debt ceiling and spending cuts."

Gao held that the reason why US economic issues have become so politicized is rooted in the campaign tricks used during the presidential election, where rival candidates were vilified for arguing and delaying economic solutions.

"The consequence is that US citizens are left to worry about the 'fiscal cliff"," added Gao.

Posted in: Chinese Media Digest

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