MAHABALIPURAM: Chinese President Xi Jinping preferred a bulletproof Chinese-made Hongqi “Red Flag” limousine over the cars provided by India after landing in Chennai for his two-day informal summit with PM Modi.
The Chinese President has used Hongqi cars during his recent overseas visits. According to the South China Morning Post, Xi rode in bulletproof Chinese-made Hongqi limousines during his recent three-nation swing through Southeast Asia and the Pacific. This is a departure from the past practice of using the host country’s cars for state visits.
The move is being seen as an attempt to promote the Chinese brand on the international stage, in line with Xi’s own 2012 directive to Communist Party cadres that they eschew foreign wheels in favour of Chinese vehicles, according to the report.
Hongqi – meaning “red flag”, a traditional symbol of the Communist Party – is a luxury car brand launched in 1958 by China First Auto Works (FAW) Group. The oldest Chinese passenger car marque, it had long been the official vehicle for high-ranking government officials and visiting dignitaries in China.
Mao Zedong used it during US President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China in the 1970s. But starting in the 1990s, the brand fell out of favour as Chinese leaders switched to using imported vehicles.
During Xi’s visits to the US in 2012, 2013 and 2015, he was driven around in the hosts’ Cadillacs – the premier luxury brand of iconic Detroit carmaker General Motors. When in France in 2014, the Chinese president rode in a Citroen C6, a luxury “executive” sedan from the French carmaker.
During his 2015 trip to Britain, Xi even took Queen Elizabeth’s Gold State Coach for a ride. The Royal Family’s enclosed carriage, drawn by eight horses, has been used at the coronation of every British monarch since George IV in 1821, the report stated.