HMMWV to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the late 1980′s.
The PLA however had no interest in the vehicle by that time, they
thought it too big and heavy. AM General left one HMMWV in China, hoping
the Chinese would change their mind.
They did after the first Gulf War
in 1991 when the HMMWV was on every TV screen in the world, seen as a
winning vehicle that could cross every desert. The HMMWV that was rotting away somewhere in China was cleaned up and
taken apart to the last bit. In the mid ’90′s, Chinese oil companies
bought several civilian HMMWV’s, officially for oil exploration but the
vehicles actually ended up in PLA’s laboratories and were taken apart as
The PLA now wanted a HMMWV, and in the early 2000′s, two Chinese
companies bid for the order. Each made its own HMMWV prototype based on
knowledge gained by reverse engineering the American HMMWV’s. One
company was Dongfeng, the other one the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation
(SAC). Dongfeng won the order and the EQ2050 was born. I’ll get back on
SAC’s prototype in a later article.
Except for one vital thing: the engine. It is a Cummins diesel made
by Dongfeng in China under license from Cummins USA. Dongfeng also
imports a GM V8 diesel, but that engine is only used in the civilian
version of the Dongfeng EQ2050 which nobody can buy. I’ll get back to
that in a moment.
Some other reports say that AM General licensed the HMMWV’s design to
Dongfeng. This is not true. AM General was happy to sell parts to
Dongfeng, the very company that copied their own car. Its all bout the
money indeed. The only thing licensed is the engine, licensed by
Back now to the civilian version. There is an arms embargo against
China since 1989 when a student party on Tiananmen Square got messy. The
US takes part in this embargo. That means US companies are not allowed
to sell military goods to China. This is not only about finished
military goods, like a tank, but also for everything that can be used to
make a tank, like the gun, the armor – or the engine.
This was a problem for both AM General and Cummins. The HMMWV was
clearly a military vehicle and so was the Dongfeng EQ2050. There is
however an exception in the embargo. When something can be used both in a
military and civilian way, it can be sold to China. Let’s say
binoculars. They can be used by the army but also by civilians spotting
birds. These goods are called ‘dual use goods’.
The American companies and Dongfeng talked things trough and arrived
at a simple answer: Dongfeng was to make a civilian version of the
EQ2050, right next the the military version. Dongfeng promised to do so,
and the Americans started selling parts and engines, approved by the
American government. Dongfeng showed a civilian EQ2050 on several
autoshows but nobody can actually buy it and nobody ever will.
Today it doesn’t really matter anymore anyway, Dongfeng can make the
parts from AM General by itself and the Cummins engines are now also
used in very civilian trucks. But it was a nice trick – most likely with
the full knowledge of all involved. Plausible deniability is