Sunday, May 25, 2008
Fill 'er Up
On Friday a barrel of oil hit $135 on the world market, making most drivers around the world think twice about getting into their cars.
But here in China things are still running, thanks to the Chinese government's artificially low prices.
Yesterday I took a taxi to Dongzhimen subway station and on the way the cab driver said he was running low on gas and would it be OK if we stopped to fill up?
Sure why not. In over a year since I've been here I've never had to go to a gas station.
There are gas jockeys, young men who either fill up the tank or the amount you want in RMB.
The taxi driver asked for 200RMB ($28.81) for 37.45 litres. Can you believe it?
That same amount of gas would be over $50 in some places.
Beijing has no plans to raise gas prices anytime soon due to the upcoming Olympics, but at the same time it's made it hard for domestic oil companies to make much of a profit. They've had to cut production, which is dangerous especially in the winter when many people froze due to the snowstorms earlier this year.
How the government plans to eventually address this unbalanced cost will be interesting, as more and more people buy cars. How can they drive if they can't afford the gas?
The gap between the rich and the poor will be even greater.