China: Drive to beat corruption gets personal

China has announced plans to ban the use of privileged military licence plates on BMWs, Porsches and other luxury cars in an attempt to crack down on abuses and give the People’s Liberation Army’s reputation a much-needed boost.

Luxury vehicles carrying military plates are a common sight in China, eliciting cynicism from a public convinced that government officials and ranking military officers abuse their privileges to enrich their families.

Military plates allow the owners to avoid paying tolls, parking fees and speeding tickets and until now, have not been limited to official military vehicles.

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The policy was ordered by President Xi Jinping, who has made anti-corruption a hallmark of his leadership. Mr Xi has mobilised personal friends in the officer corps to lecture against corruption, and introduced measures promoting frugality such as banning alcoholic beverages at military banquets.