Below is a fun little Chinese New Year guest post by
Sir Topaz, aka One Bad Adder (although he seems to be pretty good at math to me). Just a little
"food for thought" as he says...
9 月 8 evening Yan’an Road, Shanxi Road intersection, north-south and east-west traffic
to each other and lack of traffic police to ease, crossing continued
congestion. Post intern reporter Wang Ju Liang Yang
deep to figure
The Shanghai Transportation System – an analogy
In China there generally exists a feeling of the presence of
“authority”. In almost all cases this is reassuring for the
visitor …not so however on the streets of the cities.
There, chaos seems to rule …and it would be a brave, nay foolish
“westerner” who would even contemplate getting behind the wheel
without spending a lot of time to first study and absorb the
After the initial shock, the traffic chaos begins to take on a semblance of
order as one realises there are very few accidents
evident and largely the only obstruction to the (albeit slow) traffic flow,
is the occasional breakdown.
Seemingly, the “secret” to navigating your way in Shanghai
traffic is to quickly develop an understanding of (a) the user, (b) the signalling …and lastly (c) the law.
The Chinese motorist, bike-rider and pedestrian all appear to have what I
regard as a highly developed “respect” for one-another. This, above
all else is the key to maintaining a smooth flow of traffic and getting to
where you need to be.
Wherever they’re installed, the ubiquitous Traffic Lights are
essentially used to complement this level of individual respect where: -
GREEN means GO (cautiously) …and RED means STOP …and GO (slightly
There are few (if ANY) Walk – Don’t Walks …and I’m
yet to figure out what AMBER means ;-)
The ever-present “authority”, when applied to traffic management,
appears to be treated with a certain level of disrespect …not
necessarily contempt, apparently something more akin to “I’m
alright Jack! – we’ll manage it amongst ourselves”.
“Management” approach to the Shanghai Traffic System du-jour and
I might add to life in general in China …to all intents, appears to be
a case of “let-it-be”.
My apprehension in Chinese traffic is also compounded by the fact that
I’m used to driving on the Right-(correct ;-) hand side of a vehicle!
It is worth also mentioning here that trying to grasp the exponential
increase of motor vehicle uptake in Shanghai …and China in general, now
and into the future, completely boggles this layman’s mind.
So …on arrival at Shanghai airport you get a Cab and experience all
this with trepidation from the passenger seat as you meander into town 1 or 2
hours away (on a good day)
Shanghai taxi driver ID includes a registration number 111,892 where the lower
the number the more earlier the driver was
registered. One colleagues opined that he would get out of taxi where the
registration was recent – currently around 3xx,xxx,
simply because the driver would need help understanding directions. The
higher number of stars denote better quality of
service, and to some extent whether or not the driver is likely to understand
At the other end of the Shanghai Transportation spectrum …albeit
separate to it, is the Mag-Lev Train.
Going from the outskirts of the City to the Airport, this state-of-the-art
service delivers you in comfort and on-time at speeds never before attained
for mass-transit travel “on” Earth.
A truly unique experience - as you hurtle at 431kph to or from the Airport.
The thing actually backs off to 380k’s to pass the one coming the other
way …wwwoosh …they pass each other in
0.7secs …exhilarating stuff!
It was so enthralling at the time we experienced it, we ended up having
What a contrast …City – Airport …2 odd hours in traffic
…or several minutes via Mag-Lev.
They built it …and the people came – well not quite in numbers to
guarantee the sustainability of the thing economically, but come they did.
It goes nowhere, it’s too costly to build, tickets are too expensive,
were common complaints but, believe you me, it serves its purpose admirably.
Accordingly, they plan to extend this service to the city-centre
…and I understand they’re installing a similar longer one from
Shanghai to a neighbouring City as I type.
(Probably be finished and have it operational by the time I get this posted
We can look at the STS as described above as an analogy for what might end up
developing as a Global Financial System courtesy of our Oriental
In Shanghai / China, if they were to adopt and enforce similar draconian
rules and regulations that govern western traffic flow, the System would
grind to a halt in a heartbeat, so to maintain the integrity of our analogy,
we can assume China en-masse follows “let-it-be” principles in
all facets of their activities …and essentially I believe they DO.
In this Laissez-faire Society / System, “respect” both for the
individual …and transactions between parties, is sacrosanct.
Management essentially is kept to a minimum …a-la the STS.
We can also consider the Mag-Lev as representative of a functioning Free-gold
option - included in the System but not necessarily part of it - where
participants can opt out of the System if they so desire …be none the
worst for it …and in fact gain by the experience.
Free-Gold then acts as an arbiter of the System whereby IF participants begin
to stray too far from courteous interaction and behaviour,
those potentially disenfranchised simply move to Gold.
Of course the Cab drivers are represented in this analogy by the various
Financial Advisers, Accountants etc. who would not necessarily benefit
financially by pointing you to the Mag-Lev …and ultimately perhaps
would do so quite reluctantly.
Opting out (of the traffic) and onto the Mag-Lev does also have its
limitations and suitable only for the few – as per Free-Gold
….but there is (and will be) absolutely NO RISK in doing so as the
Human condition ultimately guarantees an upward new-currency evaluation of
Can a similar “Laissez-faire” Financial System exist WITHOUT an
escape option a-la Free-Gold? I really don’t think so.
(Pictures and music added by FOFOA)