Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Your number is up!

For reasons which may become clear, I’ve been taking an extraordinary interest in Chinese vehicles’ registration plates of late.

They are not as boring as may at first seem! They come in four different colours and contain all sorts of fascinating information.

The most common are the blue ones. These begin with one Chinese character, an abbreviation of the province, autonomous region or municipality where the vehicle is registered. So, here in Guangxi, they begin with which is the abbreviation for Guangxi. This is followed by a Roman letter to indicate the city where the vehicle is registered. These are from A-Z (except I; O is reserved for police vehicles) in order of size. Liuzhou being the second largest city in Guangxi, we are B.

Then come 5 alpha-numeric characters. Originally, these were purely numerical, but when the number of vehicles began to soar, letters were introduced to give more possibilities.

Liuzhou Plate

These seem to be randomly allocated although 桂B – T is reserved for taxis.

Liuzhou Taxi

Next we have a visitor from out of town. In this case Shenzhen, second largest city in Guangzhou Province.

Shenzhen Plate

Next most common are the yellow plates. These have the same format but are used on buses and motor cycles. Buses are purely numeric after the 桂B. The front plate is normal, but the rear plate has the 桂B above the number.

Liuzhou Bus

Motorcycles have the same format as cars, but the front plate omits the 桂B.

Motorcycle Rear Plate

Motorcycle Front Plate

Yellow plates are also used on a few other special vehicles such as this driving school training vehicle. The Chinese character at the end is which means school or learn.

Driving School Car

Now we come to the dreaded white plates. These belong to the military and police.

Regular police plates have the same 桂B format, but the final character is replaced by the Chinese character meaning police.

Liuzhou Police

The more heavy duty, armed police use the following. The WJ is short for Wujing (Armed Police). They often have the Chinese characters 武警 appended after the number in red. The number 16 here indicates which division of the armed police – here Guangxi division.

Armed Police

The most useful plates to have are next. The military plates. Technically, the military are subject to the same rules of the road as everyone else, but it’s a brave or foolhardy traffic cop who takes them on. In fact, there are many cases of people using fake military plates to get round paying expressway tolls or to facilitate parking anywhere they please.

This plate belongs to the Guangzhou Military Region of the PLA – People’s Liberation Army (which covers most of Southern China including Hong Kong).

PLA Plate

We also tend to see a fair number of Air Force plates in Liuzhou.

Airforce Plate

Black plates are fairly rare here. They are only issued to foreign Diplomatic staff. This is the plate of the Vietnamese Consul’s car in Nanning.

Diplomatic Plate

And finally, the point of my new interest in number plates. I have identified what are certainly the most deadly dangerous. Here is one.

No number

Yes, the no number plate vehicles. Recently, I’ve been seeing more and more of these. In fact there is one outside my window right now.

These are new vehicles. It seems there is a grace period where it takes time to issue a new plate but you can still use your new prized possession. These vehicles often belong to new drivers who have had about two weeks of training before taking their ‘test’. Alternatively, they belong to more experienced drivers who probably haven’t quite worked out how to control the new car.

What impresses me most is that people often tie red ribbons to the wing mirrors as a symbol of luck. A red ribbon is a much better safety measure than actually learning to drive competently and obeying the traffic regulations.

Red Ribbon

jǐng

. This entry was posted on Friday, July 24th, 2009 at 9:57 am and is filed under Liuzhou Life, Traffic Traumas. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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