Waiting for the real bus

The idea of the Elevated Bus (EB) certainly took me in. A photo of the unique Chinese invention appeared in many newspapers and on the internet. The EB, standing atop of a motorway, wide enough to straddle two lanes and carrying hundreds of passengers, could stop and start at bus stops while allowing two lanes of car traffic to run through it unimpeded. It was professionally designed, obviously money had been spent in making the prototype and it seemed a go-er.

Which is precisely what it was intended to be, offering a high rate of return in order to attract the savings of Chinese people. It now turns out to be a scam, one of the many different sorts of confidence tricks that are now being tried out on relatively naive Chinese investors. Far from being a Chinese innovation, this one was yet another example of copying the sorts of financial scams that we’ve suffered from in the last 20 or 30 years from banks, ‘independent financial advisors’ and other bodies in the financial sector.

Are the Chinese capable of innovation? They have been in the past and there’s no reason to doubt them in the future. Are the Chinese — with a self-selecting bureaucratic government — capable of innovation in modern times? That remains to be seen.

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