The Chinese military has relocated vehicles seized from corrupt military officials to border areas for use by troops there.
“As of the end of September, all vehicles found in violation during the anti-graft campaign have been handed to troops stationed in remote border areas under harsh conditions such as Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet,” according to China Military Online, a website owned by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
The report did not specify the number of vehicles or their models but said the transfer was ordered by a military meeting in June. It said the vehicles have been coated with camouflage paint and will be used for military training, war-time preparation and search and rescue purposes.
Vehicles used by military officials are a key area of the anti-corruption campaign, according to the website. Military regulation holds that only officers above a certain ranking can have access to passenger cars. But violations in recent years have been on the rise with officials not entitled to official cars driving around in luxury cars.
The report added that since the campaign started in late 2012, the military has said luxury cars should not have military plates and banned its officers from buying foreign made vehicles.
Corruption is said to be deep-rooted in China’s million-strong army. Opportunities for bribery exist in transfer of officers and men besides procurement of weapons and supplies. Recently, a Taiwan based newspaper had published details of the ‘going rates’ for transfers, based on information provided by officials arrested on charges of corruption.
The rates vary from the Yuan equivalent of US$500 to US$15000 for various levels of job transfers. Many mid-level and senior officials are reported to have amassed huge fortunes by indulging in corruption.
Luxury sedans and sport utility vehicles with PLA license plates became the most visible symbol of corruption in China which President Xi Jinping vowed to bring to an end when he assumed office. These big cars zipped through red lights with flashing lights and sirens blaring by elbowing other cars.
Military officials bought luxury German, American and Japanese cars and SUVs, often with proceeds of corruption. These were fitted with military plates which the officers received thanks to their official position and then pushed their weight around on the streets of Beijing, Shanghai and other cities.
Many of these cars were also sold to non-military personnel who claimed the same privileges as military officials such as driving through toll gates without paying; not having to wait at traffic signals and even subsidized fuel.