Behold! China’s ultimate weapon to counter economic downturn: the double ticket stub! So ingenious is this new instrument of economic policy that it warrants a brief explanation to those not yet initiated with the brilliant workings of the Middle Kingdom. In less-enlightened countries around the world, air travel is fairly straightforward, typically involving a ticket / boarding pass with a detachable stub that a staffer removes at the boarding gate, with the passenger and airline each retaining one half for record keeping. Faced with an impending economic crisis (or maybe already knee-deep in one, depending on who you ask or where you look), airports, working in close collaboration with the country’s esteemed state-owned airlines, have introduced a second ticket stub, hoping to stimulate economic activity, create employment, and furthering the People’s glorious march towards a harmonious society.

Photo: Frank Siu.

Some of our well-traveled readers who are still unable to grasp the sheer marvel of this invention may ask, what does a second ticket stub accomplish? My dear comrade, a second ticket stub must be removed by a second attendant! Why can’t the same staffer tasked with removing the first stub also tear the second stub? God forbid no! What a silly question, just the kind of gibberish Western democratic market capitalism would produce. That and KFC.

Uncle Xi’s brilliance does not stop there. A second stub requires a second staffer to remove. But before that happens, the second stub must be stamped and validated, by another separate employee! No, certainly not the chap who stamped the first stub; that kind of operational efficiency is unbecoming of our state-owned enterprises.

Photo: Frank Siu.

Before boarding his flight this morning, yours truly had each of his ticket stubs stamped separately, the boarding pass itself stamped (by a different official, of course), and passed through two separate X-ray baggage screening stations, one passport control desk, and no less than two other manned checkpoints whose officers’ sole job was to wave travelers past and point them to the next checkpoint. How’s that for job creation?

It’s a move that harks back to the country’s proudest moments in history, such as the Great Leap Forward, when hundreds of millions of similarly nonsensical jobs were created through the mobilization of entire communities to take perfectly usable everyday objects and to melt them into giant hunks of useless steel. Our leaders are indeed determined to take us back to the magnificent days of the Cultural Revolution, complete with extrajudicial kidnappings, purges, and public confessions. In return, we must vow eternal vigilance against all those foreign aggressors at our door: banana-eating Japanese YouTubers, teenage K-pop artists screaming Taiwan independence, the Republic of the Philippines, and of course, KFC.

And when the country really falls on hard times, rest assured the leadership has the People’s backs covered, with…(wait for it)…the triple ticket stub.

Frank Siu

Frank Siu is a financial econometrician working in the private sector. Born and raised in Hong Kong, he takes a keen interest in local affairs, particularly issues of rising social inequality and deepening political uncertainty. He enjoys curry fish balls and rubik's cubes.