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Military forces in Beijing denied online allegations that an expensive vehicle with a new military plate was driven on a highway despite the order to ban the military from using luxurious vehicles, which took effect on Wednesday.
The Volkswagen Touareg caught in photos driving on a highway in Beijing is not specified as among the types of cars that are banned from being used by the military, the Beijing Military Area of the People's Liberation Army said in a statement released on the website of PLA Daily, a newspaper owned by the PLA, on Thursday.
The Volkswagen Touareg was among the vehicles bought for senior military officers in the past and will continue to be used to avoid waste, and military forces will not buy any vehicles costing more than 450,000 yuan ($73,000) in the future, the statement said.
Several photos of the Volkswagen Touareg were posted on Sina micro blog on Wednesday, causing suspicion among netizens whether the new regulation to limit the use of expensive military cars can be carried out.
According to the new regulation, issued by China's Central Military Commission, the military adopted new vehicle plates on Wednesday, and those previously in use, which were introduced in 2004, were annulled on Tuesday.
Several types of vehicles will not be eligible for the new plates, including luxury cars, private and local government vehicles, and those for officials who hold concurrent positions in the PLA and armed police forces.
Luxury vehicles specified in the order include Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lincoln, Cadillac, Porsche, and any car with an engine capacity above 3.0 liters and priced over 450,000 yuan, as well as expensive SUVs such as Land Rover, Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7.
The Volkswagen Touareg is not specified in the list. The price of an imported Volkswagen Touareg ranges from 640,000 yuan to 1.18 million yuan, according to online shopping records.
The regulation aims to crack down on the production, sale and use of counterfeit military vehicle plates and root out loopholes in military vehicle management, according to the transportation section of the PLA General Logistics Department.
"All plates of military cars in our university have been replaced by new plates according to the regulation," said an officer in charge of the armament department of Military Transportation University, surnamed Wang.
Sophisticated anti-counterfeiting technologies have been adopted in the new plate, which can effectively eliminate the use of counterfeit military car plates and regulate the use of military vehicles, Wang said.
Under the new system, getting a military plate will be more difficult, he said.
Military inspectors were deployed on some highways in Beijing on Wednesday, and all military cars in Beijing and Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, have replaced old car plates with new ones, according to PLA Daily.
In China, cars with military plates, which differ from ordinary vehicle plates in color and numbers, are legally entitled to privileges, including exemption from road tolls and parking fees.