The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Beijing Military Region said on Thursday that a Volkswagen Touareg with a new military vehicle license plate spotted by a netizen in Beijing on Wednesday conforms to regulations that restrict luxury cars.
The response came after widely circulated photos of the car triggered public outrage as it appeared to contravene the military's new ban on issuing plates to luxury vehicles priced over 450,000 yuan ($72,993). The car in the photos is estimated to cost between 645,000 and 1.18 million yuan.
A Beijing resident, who writes under the penname Xiaoting, posted the photos on her Sina Weibo and asked how the vehicle managed to be assigned new plates that were supposed to be restricted to less expensive vehicles.
An official with the Military Transportation Department of the General Logistics Department of the Beijing Military Region said the Volkswagen Touareg was previously purchased for a high-ranking military officer, and is not on the list of restricted vehicles, reported China Military Online, the news portal of the PLA Daily.
The official added that similar autos purchased in the past would continue to be used on a limited basis to prevent waste.
Both the press office of the Beijing Military Region and the PLA Daily confirmed to the Global Times that they welcome public supervision of violations of the new vehicle regulation.
The press office also told the Global Times that the region will strictly follow the new rule and will no longer purchase luxury vehicles.
The new set of military plates, which took effect on Wednesday, aims to crack down on the misuse of military vehicles. New regulations also prevent military personnel from purchasing sedans costing over 450,000 yuan or with an engine larger than 3.0 liters.
However, the public is calling for a more stringent interpretation and application of the regulations. They worry that "previously purchased" might become an excuse to circumvent the new rule.