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Foreign Minister Switches to Red Flag Car

June 19, 2013
Compiled By Zhu Na

On June 18, a new Hongqi (Red Flag) H7 car was photographed in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On the same day, the ministry’s official weibo account announced, “Starting from today, Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s official vehicle will be the domestically-made Hongqi.” The message was reposted thousands of times.

The ministry said that Minister Wang’s previous official car had already surpassed the fixed number of years before he was allowed to get a replacement. The new vehicle was arranged by the department in charge of official cars, according to the central government’s relevant rules. But Minster Wang said he was happy to use a Chinese-made car.

An industry insider revealed that China FAW Group Corp. currently has 1,000 H7 cars in stock in Beijing. In the future, senior officials in various ministries will gradually replace their existing official cars with Hongqi H7s. However, the specific replacement details still haven’t been decided.

A senior manager in China FAW Group Corp. also revealed that nearly 1,000 Hongqi H7s have already been delivered to the central and local governments to be used by leaders at or above the ministerial level.

China Automobile Industry Association Deputy Secretary-General Luo Lei (罗磊) said the government purchase of domestic cars has finally moved past talking to doing, which will have a good impact on domestic high-end vehicle brands.

Following the announcement, A-share prices for a group of stocks including Great Wall Motors, Dongan Auto and BYD rose more than 2 percent.

Hongqi has a long history in China going back to the 1960s when it was used by Mao Zedong and later Deng Xiaoping. “Hongqi has begun showing its face in public more frequently than before,” Luo Lei said. “Recently the Hongqi H7 has been seen in many TV ads.”  

On May 30, the Hongqi H7 was launched in Beijing with a price of 299,800 to 479,800 yuan depending on the engine type.

Last year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued a catalogue of 2012 vehicle models now available to government officials. The listed models were all domestic brands; no luxury brands like Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz were included, nor were joint ventures Volkswagen, Toyota or Buick.

According regulations introduced by the State Council in 2004, the standard for official cars used by cadres at the ministerial level is that the price must be below 450,000 yuan. For cadres at deputy-ministerial level, the price must be less than 350,000 yuan.

In 2009, the State Council issued a plan for automobile industry restructuring and revitalization which made clear that official cars should tend towards domestic brands. Since then, the proportion of domestically made official cars in governments at all levels cannot be lower than 50 percent.

“This support for domestic brands isn’t only the pride of China FAW, “Luo Lei said. “It will also let Chery, Geely, BYD and all domestic brands have more confidence in researching, developing and promoting middle and high-end sedans. Our domestic cars will become more and more perfect.”

Links & Sources:  - 外交部长换红旗车 已有近1000辆红旗H7交付政府
Beijing Times - 外长换红旗车按中央规定



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