The Chinese military on Sunday began replacing license plates on its vehicles, a fleet which includes luxury brands, in an attempt to crack down on excess and corruption within the People’s Liberation Army. From The Wall Street Journal:
The People’s Liberation Army General Logistics Department began supervising the removal of current military license plates that will expire on Tuesday, the PLA Daily newspaper reported.
Luxury sedans and sport utility vehicles with PLA and People’s Armed Police license plates gliding through red lights or flashing lights and sirens to push aside cars in front of them are a common sight in China.
Luxury German, American and Japanese cars and SUVs with military plates — often given to friends and family members as favors — are one of many manifestations of corruption in China that regularly irk ordinary citizens.
Family members of retired military officers and who have military plates have even claimed free gasoline.
Government officials have felt the squeeze of Xi Jinping’s austerity measures in recent months, as China’s new president has rolled out a number of directives meant to clamp down on corruption within the Communist Party. Xinhua News reported that the PLA is phasing out current license plates and replace them with new plates starting May 1:
Several types of vehicles will not be eligible for the new plates, including luxury cars, private and local government vehicles, and those for local officials who hold concurrent positions in the PLA and armed police forces.
Luxury vehicles were specified as those with the marks Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lincoln, Cadillac, Volkswagen Phaeton, Bentley, Jaguar, Porsche, and any car with an emission above 3.0 and priced over 450,000 yuan (72,990 U.S. dollars), as well as SUVs including Land Rover, Porshe Cayenne, and Audi Q7, among others.
In recent years, irregularities in the use of military cars have drawn public attention. Some internet users have posted snapshots on popular Twitter-like microblogs featuring limos with military license plates.