Riding High in Beijing

During Vulcan’s first visit to Beijing in 1981, we saw many vehicles on the road we had never seen before.  One of them was the Hongqi (Red Flag) limousine.  The one above was parked in front of the Beijing Hotel, where we were staying.

Jay Leno’s Garage featured one back in 2016; here’s the video of same:

The one in the photo and the one Jay drove are definintely the same model; I’m not sure if they’re the same one or not, I did not catch the licence number in my photo.

A somewhat sardonic description of how these were driven around Beijing comes from John Fraser’s The Chinese: Portrait of a People, after his interview with the Chinese author Mao Dun:

As I went out to my car, he was escorted with suitable fanfare to his waiting Red Flag limousine. The vast and sinister automobiles the Communist state makes available for its leaders are far larger than any equivalent vehicle a “feudal comprador capitalist exploiter” could have had in Shanghai during the thirties. Mao Dun got in and closed the door of the roomy back-seat passenger section. His chauffeur wheeled out of the entranceway with the blast of the car horn. The driver, as is usual in Peking, never stopped to see if there were any oncoming bicycle traffic: the horn blast was sufficient to alert the masses that greatness was descending upon them. Mao Dun set bolt upright in the back seat, holding his cane in front of him. One could just make out his image when a shaft of sun shone through the heavily curtained windows. As I followed him along the street for about half a mile, the limousine belched out loud honks while humble cyclists and pedestrians hurried to get out of the way. The scene could have been lifted straight out of Midnight. (Fraser, p. 128)


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