China Leaders Love Luxe Cars

Activists fume as officials drive Bentleys, Maseratis
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2012 2:29 PM CST
A visitor looks at a Audi A6 displayed at the Shanghai Auto Show in Shanghai on April 20, 2011.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – China's political leaders have long loved pricey cars, but public anger is rising over bureaucrats who wheel around in Bentleys and Maseratis, reports the LA Times. Defying government censorship, angry citizens are snapping photos of luxury autos and posting them on websites. "Corruption on wheels is an accurate description of this problem," says a Beijing professor who has been campaigning for years against political leaders buying luxury cars.

The Chinese government throws more than $15 billion annually at official vehicles, say car analysts, which tops spending on scientific R&D and low-income housing. "You can't get evidence about other kinds of corruption, such as people accepting envelopes of cash, but this you easily see for yourself," says one activist. Officials have tried cracking down, but Chinese bureaucrats are ingenious at avoiding restrictions. Says one Audi parts shop owner: "Whenever a new regulation comes out, we get customers from the government."

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