Hongqi CA770, the pimpin’ ride for communist leaders between 1958 and 1980
Echoing US auto workers during the Japanese car boom, the PLA is apparently fed up with China’s foreign car craze, and wants people to swap the Mercedes for a Chinese Hongqi H7 Sedan, the favorite brand of the PLA and a symbol of official power during the Mao period. Good luck. WSJ reports:
Such a purchase was made in order comply a regulation made by President Xi Jinping, who also serves as the country’s top military officer. Mr. Xi in January required that armed forces purchase domestic brands when procuring vehicles used by military officers.
For Hongqi, whose name means “red flag,” the order is a boon — the equivalent of a third of Hongqi sales in 2013, according to previous reports from the car’s manufacturer, FAW Car Co. The PLA and FAW weren’t immediately available for comment.
The PLA newspaper’s report said that the military will gradually phase out foreign vehicles made by companies like Volkswagen AG and Audi, which have traditionally dominated China’s luxury car market. It quoted PLA official Cheng Guhui as saying that the domestic requirement for vehicle purchases is “a hard-and-fast rule.”
With prices starting at about 300,000 yuan, or $48,000, the H7 is aimed squarely at government officials and wealthy businessmen who currently drive the Audi A6 and Mercedes C-class sedans.
The Hongqi H7
However, we suspect that nothing short of a ban is going to curb China’s insatiable craving for foreign cars.
The move is part of Xi Jinping’s anti-extravagance campaign, which at times seems more like a protectionist campaign to help local industries by crippling the foreign competition via government initiatives.
This especially rings true on the food front, where they’ve most notably tightened import restrictions on NZ baby formula and banned British cheese on trumped up charges to help the China’s floundering dairy industries. Don’t like melamine-laced milk? Too bad, it’s the only kind available.
Some would even venture that the reason China builds so many knockoff landmarks – ie, Thames Town, Little Paris – etc., is so that citizens won’t spend tourist dollars overseas at the real places. We wouldn’t go so far as to say that, but stranger things have happened.
[Image credit: wautom.com]