Collusion between local anti-counterfeiting authorities and fraudsters has hindered a People's Liberation Army crackdown on the production, distribution and sale of fake military uniforms, state media have reported.
The nationwide crackdown, launched jointly by the army's General Logistic Department, the Ministry of Public Security and five other ministerial-level agencies, hit a snag in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, Topics In Focus, a popular CCTV programme, reported on Monday.
The crackdown was followed by a comprehensive secret investigation carried out by a military supplies department in the Chengdu Military Command. Investigators found that two wholesale markets in Wuhan were key hubs for fake military and police uniforms on the mainland.
However, when the Chengdu military investigation team joined Wuhan authorities to raid one of the markets recently, none of the shops were open for business.
Footage taken by CCTV showed that the day before the raid, several officials from the city's industry and commerce bureau - an anti-counterfeiting watchdog - rushed to the market and went from shop to shop warning shopkeepers that the authorities would investigate their products the next morning.
'You guys had better stop business tomorrow because they will come tomorrow morning,' Li Xiaoming, a mid-level bureau official, told one shopkeeper.
One of his subordinates even taught shopkeepers how to deal with the authorities if they were found selling fake uniforms.
'You shouldn't say that the products are for sale, just say that you are keeping them for someone else. Remember, never mention 'sale' because it's illegal,' the official said.
In a separate interview by CCTV, Li and his subordinates all denied sheltering fraudsters. The programme did not say whether they or any other officials involved had been punished.
The report said the military investigation team finally gained access to just four of the 400 shops in the market. The four shops contained a large number of fake military uniforms.