Nowadays, pesky traffic cameras are everywhere, taking photos of our licence plates which could be used against us. It seems we can't do a damn thing without someone prying into our business. How China has changed!
Thankfully, modern Middle Kingdomia is not only in the information age, but the innovation age as well. There are plenty of people to come up with ways to stop running afoul of the law when you're merely minding your own business whilst getting about at Formula 1 speeds.
Today the Tiger Father brings you your go-to guide to "working the China system", or "breaking the law", in relation to your licence plates.
1. Just take the bloody things off.
Beijing is full of sights like these. Newly-filthy-rich people, particularly the offspring of important Communist Party cadres, like spending their money on fast cars. They then like to neglect to get them registered. Obviously, if there are no plates on the cars, photos taken by traffic cameras aren't much good.
The idea was once explained to me by a local, who I assume was used to taking on trust everything he read in the Chinese media, or was either born without the cynicism gene, or much of a brain. He said it costs a lot of money to register a fancy sports car like the one above, so instead of registering them, owners chose not to register them.
"Oh well fair enough then," I said.
It's so simple! Particularly if you ignore that part of the law which states something like "cars must be registered".
Perhaps the owners, who've just paid half a million dollars for the car, truly don't have anything left over for the registration. Perhaps also, if we're dealing in wild guesses, they've bought the Ferrari so they can drive really really fast?
To outsiders, driving around in a car without plates looks like an invitation to be pulled over by the fuzz. Particularly in Communist, rules-mad China, no? By contrast, everyone in China knows it would be a foolish policeman indeed who would dare pull over a car driven by someone so cocky as to not bother with plates. They clearly have money and connections. If you, Mister Policeman, fancy pushing a pen in an office in the middle of the Gobi Desert for the next 40 years, go ahead and make the little twerp's day.
|Nearby was this Ferrari, beside a woman who was|
probably not its owner. I've smudged them out here,
but the car had licence plates. Now that's real balls.
|Then there was this souped-up hot rod, boldly sticking two|
fingers up to the law with its absence of plates.
|Unless it had been abandoned.|
2. Just put on some fake plates, the more imposing, the better.
Recently, China announce a crackdown on the abuse of military licence plates. If you have them, you can basically do what you want on the roads here.
I know what you're thinking: So does everybody. But military plates give extra insurance against getting pulled over if you really stand out from the crowd. You can drive on the shoulders of freeways to skirt traffic jams, run red lights, et cetera, knowing that you have plates that show you're in the most important service in the country, and should be honoured, respected and afforded many rights and privileges.
That's why army types were abusing the system hand-over-fist. Abuses including military officials grabbing a handful of plates to share out amongst family and friends, or for sale.
|Army plates, which start with distinctive red letters,|
were turning up on vehicles like this.
|And wouldn't this type of vehicle have come in handy for|
Rommel in North Africa?
Army plates became so popular, a big business sprung up in counterfeiting them.
|Some fake plates on show to the public. Hopefully this was|
after they'd being seized by police. And hopefully they
weren't still for sale.
|A few other fake plates displayed by military police.|
3. OK, I'll have the licence plate if you really insist. But I choose to cover it up.
People really drive around here with their licence plates covered up. Here's a photo I found on the internet at Chinatoday.com.
|This woman driver was nicked by police in Guangdong,|
southern China, for what she thought was rather clever
use of a sanitary napkin.
|The lady explained she liked the fold back wings on the|
napkin, which offered extra security. She did, however,
admit she used the super-absorbent pad to avoid being
embarrassingly exposed in public, for driving too fast.
4. If I don't have any sanitary napkins, what could I use to cover my plates?
Well, you could use two blokes.
Or you could do it like this car I spotted in Beijing today.
|This owner's approach seems to have drawn inspiration both|
from the military scam and the panty-liner cover-up.
|Then I looked more closely and thought it looked home|
made. Surely his mum didn't make it for him?
Thankfully my fears were put at rest.
|You can buy them on internet shopping|
giant Taobao for 1.2 yuan! Or roughly
twenty cents US! They come in all
|The blurb under this Taobao advert says|
it's a "dust-proof licence plate cover to
protect your licence plate from dust".
Thank God. Nothing pisses me off more
than having a dusty number plate.
|The plate covers also come in|
"Foreign Invader style",
in case you really want to
rub their noses in it.
In the same Taobao category, which, with my loose grasp of Chinese, I think was called "Really Dodgy/Illegal Car Products", I also found these:
|To match your make of car,|
they're screws to hold your licence
plates on. They also make it easy to
take them off if, say, you come out
of a bar and find yourself legless
drunk and want a trouble-free
Tiger Father Top Tips!
If, like me, you won't, or can't, stump up the twenty cents for a dust cover, here's a range of budget-friendly, innovative things you can do to turn your old junk into fine fine-savers.
|It's marvelous what you can do with|
|Or, though slightly more conspicuous, a|
T-shirt. In my VW Bora four-door sedan,
I look like an hombre not to be messed with.
Again it helps if you use the more fearsome
T-shirt you've got.
|On the other hand something like this|
should make police think you're not
up to anything bad.
|This could pass as a legitimate auto|
accessory, particularly considering
how much illegal, early-hours drag
racing goes on in Beijing amongst
|Nothing says 'simplicity' like a towel.|
|Or, if you're a parent, you might have|
a painter's dropsheet.
* * *
In other news ...
This has been floating around, so you may have seen it. Then again, a lot of readers tell me I'm their main source for news about China (and it's neighbours sometimes). In which case we're all in trouble, but anyway ...
The Miss Korea pageant is in full swing. I don't think I need to say "Miss South Korea" here, because, not putting too fine a point on it, a national beauty contest is not the type of thing the North Koreans would or should be into.
The Miss Korea battle has drawn worldwide attention. There are 20 contestants, and experts have declared it will be very difficult to pick a winner.
That's because they all look exactly the same. That's not a PC thing to say about north Asian people, we know (even if many Chinese say it about westerners. Yes they do.) But the thing is, South Korea is the regional home of plastic surgery - a topic I've touched on before. Eye-westernising, cheekbone angle-grinding, jaw re-shaping, et cetera. You need it? You go to South Korea and get it.
The trouble is, from the look of it, all 20 contestants were treated by the same carpenter. Here's just five of them.
|Someone possibly called Kim, or|
Park. (If they don't look the same
then they definitely sound the same.
Besides, it doesn't really matter
what they're called when they all
appear to be the same person).
|Someone called Park or Kim.|
|Kim Park Kim.|
|Park Kim Park.|
I could show you the other 15 but there's little point. Maybe they're related. The world's first scorelets?
It just goes to prove the old saying: You can always tell a Miss Korea entrant. But you can't always tell them apart.
For a fun look at a fast montage of them one-by-one, go to:
(I'd love to have the technology to just link you to that, but until China and google kiss and make up, you'll have to copy and paste, sorry.)
Thanks for reading. More nonsense on Thursday!