China’s PLA (People’s Liberation Army) Daily reported on April 28 that the Chinese Defence Ministry has published a statement that new military license plates have been issued as replacements of old ones, to enhance overall control of military license plates.
In an interview, the person in charge of military transport told the reporter that it aims to prevent:
- Fake plates
- Unauthorised issue of such plates. Military license plates are disallowed on eleven luxury brands and models, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lincoln, Cadillac, Volkswagen Phaeton, Bentley, Jaguar and Porsche, as well as those that cost more than 450,000 yuan ($72,400) or have engines larger than 3.0 litres
- Unauthorised use
- Being stolen
All registered military vehicles must use the new license plates by May 1. By that time, the use of old ones will not be allowed.
SCMP says that the Defence Ministry’s statement “said that the military had been urged by President Xi Jinping to be more disciplined and to improve its public image, and that the issuing of military plates needed to be reformed.
“Also next month, the vehicle management department of the People’s Liberation Army will launch a campaign targeting counterfeit military plates and people who abuse authentic plates. Fake plates will be identified by video at highway toll stations and plate inspectors will also randomly visit areas, such as around nightclubs, to check for military vehicles.”
SCMP says: “Professor Chen Jierong, who teaches law at Sichuan University in Chengdu, said the new regulations would probably reduce the number of luxury cars with military plates on mainland streets, but only for a while. ‘I am sure many expensive cars with military plates will re-emerge soon,’ he said. ‘They have been banned five times over the last few decades, but more emerged after each ban. This time will be the same.’
“Chen noted that military plate inspectors were powerless to stop the leasing out of military-owned vehicles, with official plates, to civilians for non-military use.
“‘It is a common practice in Beijing for an Audi A8, with a real [military] plate, real paperwork and a real driver in a military uniform, to be leased out by a senior military officer to a businessman,’ he said. ‘The businessman pays 800,000 yuan a year but gets many benefits in return, such as giving others the impression that he has strong ties to the military. It happens not only in Beijing, but in every city.’
“He said military inspectors could do little when a case involves a higher-ranking officer. Even if a vehicle is seized, Chen said, a phone call by a general could foil any action.
“Chen said people were furious about privileges associated with military vehicles, especially as the number of mainland drivers continues to grow rapidly.
“Vehicles with military plates are allowed to run red lights, drive in emergency lanes and avoid road tolls, among some other privileges.”
Whether the new restrictions work will be the acid tests of Xi Jinping’s ability to bring about real changes.Sources: mil.huanqiu.com “General Logistics Department on military license plates: strict control, no use allowed on luxury cars”; SCMP “Ban on use of military licence plates on luxury cars in mainland China”
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