Licence-platetology: China

Did you know that in China they had special license-plates for foreigner’s cars?

Black plates were foreigners.

Blue plates were citizens.

The Economist says that this is so that they can keep foreigners out of restricted areas.

Interesting externalities is that some police would avoid pulling someone over with a black license-plate because they were afraid of trying to speak to foreigners in their language.

At the same time China is allowing privately owned vehicles, which have to have the black plate.

They decided to get rid of those but now the foreigners just have blue plates that say LB on them.

This is an interesting strategy for the Chinese. Since the police discriminate towards their citizens more, it avoid a headline story of police abuse of an American or some other country’s citizen.

But in some since we do it too. I know from being around the D.C. area that there are ambassador plates for people who work in the embassies.

Back to China; this has caused a demand increase in the black plates because the benefits of not getting pulled over are worth whatever the black market price is for them.

But nevertheless this is a tool of a dictator.


Published in: on December 2, 2007 at 2:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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