Chinese army, police seize thousands of fake military number plates

China's military and police confiscated thousands of counterfeit military vehicle number plates in the latest effort to fight abuse of military identities, police said in a press release Monday.

In a joint raid on June 8-10, they said, 37 suspects were arrested and 250 fake military number plates as well as 2,346 semi finished ones were seized in south China's Guangdong Province and eastern Zhejiang Province.

This year alone, gangs have counterfeited some 3,000 armed police number plates, 5,000 military number plates and nearly 10,000 civilian ones and sold them in more than 20 provinces.

In China, cars with military plates, which differ from ordinary vehicle number plates in colour and numbers, have special privileges, including exemption from road tolls and parking fees.

Last April, the People's Liberation Army said 4,112 fake military vehicles and 6,373 stolen or fake military license plates were seized in a crackdown that started in July 2006.

Earlier reports said annual toll losses in 2006 from the use of fake military number plates and vehicles in Chongqing, one of China's four municipal level cities, which has 750 kilometres of expressways, amounted to 40 million yuan (5.63 million U.S. dollars).

An amendment to the Criminal Law passed this February provides for tougher punishment for the counterfeit, theft, illegal supply and use of military license plates. Those convicted of such offenses face three to seven years of imprisonment and fines, according to the amendment.

China's Law on Road Traffic Safety also stipulates that drivers using fake number plates could face criminal charges, along with fines of200 yuan to 2,000 yuan, and confiscation of their vehicles.

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