New military plates to thwart corruption
Global Times | 2013-4-1 0:18:01
By Zhang Wen
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The Ministry of National Defense will not issue special military plates for luxury vehicles when it rolls out its new plates on May 1.

All of the current military plates in the country expire with the rollout of the new plates, and the ministry will use high technology to make sure no one can get their hands on the new plates that does not deserve them, the Beijing News reported Saturday.

"The new military license plates will have a chip in them. It's like an electronic identity card. Drivers of luxury cars or lorries with fake military plates, who want to use the privilege of military plates or to avoid tolls, will be easily caught at electronic toll collection gates," said Song Zhongping, a well-known military affairs commentator.

Song also said computerized supervision of the cars with military plates is also in progress. "For instance, if a military car from Beijing is found in Guangzhou, it would be checked out under suspicion of using a public car for private affairs. This will help prevent corruption," Song told the Global Times.

A system will be set up to track the military plates reported lost or stolen, and military units have to report the lost plates within 15 days.

Song said the last time military plates were redesigned was in 2004, and updating them is necessary because technology has developed in ways that can counter the current crop of forgers and cheats.

Ren Jianmin, a public administration expert with Tsinghua University, said updating the old plates only addresses the symptoms of the problem, and the fundamental solution for military plate-related corruption should be the cancellation of the privileges enjoyed by military cars.

"In the short term, some people will lose the opportunity of updating their plates to the latest version, but because they have connections, and desire the privileges that come with the plates, they will still try other means to get one in the long run," Ren told the Global Times.

Vehicles with military license plates are exempt from paying highway tolls. In addition, drivers can more easily avoid paying fines from police when caught breaking traffic rules, Ren said. "The privileges can save a lot of money, and people are willing to pay for these privileges."

"The privileges are left over by history, but as the social environment changes, they have become the source of corruption, and have triggered public dissatisfaction. Military cars should also pay the tolls, then the spending can be included into their budgets. Drivers face the same punishment when breaking traffic rules. That's the spirit of building a country based on law, which promotes equality," he said.


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