China Target Illegal License Plates

Published: 03 April 2013


In the latest of a series ofanti-corruption measures, China has cracked down on improperly attained military license plates, which well-connected drivers display as status symbols and use to flaunt laws, the Washington Post reported

Stricter controls on the controversial plates will take effect on May 1. The aim is to cut down on the abuse of the plates by officials, and to discourage their distribution as gifts and perks. Military plates will no longer be allowed on luxury vehicles, according to the Washington Post. Military plates on private vehicles have drawn the ire of the everyday Chinese, many of which believe they are a symbol of unearned privilege or the outcome of business deals with the military. 

China’s new president, Xi Jinping, embarked on an ambitious program of corruption crackdowns almost immediately after he came to power. The government has banned gaudy feasts and parties for officials, as well as investigating financial irregularities and cracking down on crooked dealings. The new policies have caused a party-wide scramble as worried officials try to separate themselves from shady money. In January 2013, the crackdown was blamed for a massive outflow of capital from China, as officials looked to evade stricter controls through property purchases in the US.

Despite the genuine concern of party officials in China, there are doubts as to the efficacy of China’s anti-corruption program. The Post quoted a Chinese blogger’s response to the new regulations: “It’s no use to only change the plate,” he said. “The person who drives the military vehicles should change their attitude.”