In Beijing, official government vehicles tend towards the ubiquitous black Audi A6 — the classic Chinese bureaucrat car — or perhaps BMWs and Mercedes, all with tinted windows and aggressive personal drivers forcing through way through the gridlock.
The Canadian ambassador to China has turned heads with his official car for a different reason, according to The Globe and Mail newspaper.
When David Mulroney posted photos of his silver Toyota Camry hybrid on the Canadian embassy's official Weibo microblog (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter), "the reaction from the Chinese Internet was something close to shock. Especially when he explained that even cabinet ministers in Canada only have a budget of $32,400 for their official car," the Globe said.
According to the Globe, one Weibo user commented (using Mulroney's Chinese name, Ma Dawei): “Ambassador Ma, a Chinese mid-level cadre wouldn’t lay an eye on your car!”
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Mulroney explained on Weibo that in Canada, only minister or deputy minister-level officials have government-subsidized vehicles.
"I provided the information because we get a lot of questions about how we operate at the embassy, what rules govern our work, and how much money we spend. This information is all readily available to Canadians who ask," he told Global Times, a state-run newspaper.
Global Times said Mulroney's Weibo post "sparked an extensive online discussion about Chinese officials' misuse of government cars."
“Government vehicle issue in China is a mess, and our government is the most unwilling in the world to talk about it,” Ye Qing, a member of the National People’s Congress, told Global Times.
"I really appreciate the ambassador's attitude and their government's transparency," Ye said.
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