China breaks up gangs that smuggled $206m worth of cars

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Chinese authorities have broken up six rings that smuggled around US$164 million (S$206 million) worth of cars into the country over the past three years, including more than 80 top-end models such as BMWs and Rolls-Royces, state media said on Thursday.

Police arrested 54 gang members who had smuggled in the vehicles from the United States, Vietnam, Myanmar and Hong Kong, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The gangs had smuggled in more than 3,000 vehicles, it added.

Smuggling of cars into China has long been a problem for the government, as car-mad Chinese consumers try to avoid paying steep taxes for coveted foreign models.

Tariffs on foreign cars brought into China are 25 per cent for any type of car. In addition, there is a value-added tax of 17 per cent and consumption tax, which depends on engine size.

In July, Xinhua accused foreign carmakers of reaping exorbitant profits by selling imported luxury cars in China and called for them to face an anti-trust investigation.