Home » The Massive Bulletproof Chinese Military Parade Inspection Cars Are Actually Quite Fascinating

The Massive Bulletproof Chinese Military Parade Inspection Cars Are Actually Quite Fascinating

China Mil Parade Pt2 Top
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This is Part 2 of my story about Hongqi-branded closed-roof inspection cars that were used for the large military parades in Beijing. For the introduction and explainer see Part 1. In this second part, we discuss three parades and the development of two inspection cars and auxiliary vehicles. I have also added some personal parade impressions. The parades are:

2009: 60th anniversary of China.
2015: 70th anniversary of Victory over Japan.
2019: 70th anniversary of China.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Without further ado, let’s go to 2009:

2009: Hongqi CA7600J. License plate: 京V·02009. With: Hu Jintao.

2009 Hu 14

This inspection car was used during the military parade celebrating the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The parade was held on October 1, 2009. The official name of the parade was The 60th Anniversary of the Founding of New China Military Parade (新中国建国60周年大阅兵). The phrase New China refers to a philosophical political concept: the establishment of a new strong China replacing the old backward and partially occupied China. The concept goes back to the early 1900s but came into full play after the Communists took power in 1949.

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The 2009 military parade was the most important in recent history. At the time, President Hu Jintao was in power and China was generally popular with the rest of the world. China’s rise was still relatively peaceful, without all the tensions of today. The 2008 Olympic Games had been a success, and China wanted to confirm its position with a big military parade. But this parade was different than the ones that came before and afterward. Sure, there were tanks and ICBMs, but the atmosphere in the city and around the parade was friendly. I lived in Beijing at the time –the parade was a party, almost like a carnival. People were watching in bars and restaurants, drinking tea or beer, and cheering. There had been several rehearsals in the weeks prior, with all sorts of rocket launchers driving through town. It was good fun, with smiling soldiers and folks taking photos. The rehearsals were public, so after a while, everyone knew about the routes of the various war machines, and those were shared on the internet.

2009 Hu 12
At the transit point. Photo by me.

On the day of the parade, I went out on my bicycle and pedaled to one of the transit points where military vehicles passed through on their way to the parade. I stood there with dozens of Chinese folks and we came within a few feet of the vehicles. Try that today! My boss at the time was even luckier, he was invited to sit in a VIP box next to Tiananmen.  The vehicle in the photo is a ZTD-05 amphibious assault vehicle with a 105-millimeter main gun.

2009 Hu 6
Photo by me.

Posing with an IFV. This one belongs to the SWAT team of the Beijing People’s Armed Police (PAP). In the days around the parade, these vehicles were deployed on major crossings in Beijing. It was unusually warm for the time of the year, which made for an even greater street party.  The vehicle was guarded by a single policeman and he was cool with everybody taking photos and fooling around.

2009 Hu 7
Photo by me.

Keeping his cool. The vehicle is the anti-riot vehicle version of the WZ-551 IFV.

2009 Hu 8
All these photos by me.

The parade was displayed on large screens everywhere in town. I watched most of the parade on this giant screen at The Place in central Beijing.

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2009 Hu 9

I was not alone.

2009 Hu 10

This was just a few kilometers from Changan Avenue, so we could see all the airplanes flying over. These are Harbin Z-9 helicopters. We also saw jets and bombers.

2009 Hu 11

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Whenever a group of planes came over folks would cheer and applaud. Okay! Back to cars now:

2019 3

Hu’s ride was a massive Hongqi CA7600J. This was a brand-new inspection car specially developed for the 2009 parade. It was the largest inspection car ever made in China. Hongqi built two cars for the parade, one for Hu and one for the commander. The design resembled the classic Hongqi CA770, with the lights and grille, but in a modernized way and on a much larger scale. The CA7600J was based on an extended SUV body-on-frame chassis, and it had four-wheel drive.

Hongqi Hqd 3
Hongqi HQE.

In the run up to the parade, Hongqi had developed a more radical new inspection car, initially called the Hongqi HQD and later renamed to HQE. It was shown to the public at several auto shows and Hongqi build a few prototypes. But the government rejected the daring design in favor of the more traditional CA7600J.

2009 Hu 13

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An early CA7600J prototype, yet without center-wheel covers but with a racy red brake caliper. The development phase had a cool name again: “0910 Project” (0910工程). The vehicle is 6.4 meters long and 1.72 meters high. It has suicide doors, a large cabin, and a wide D-pillar. The high waistline and small windshield make it look heavy and tank-like. Well, it was somewhat of a tank indeed. The CA7600J is bullet-proof and weighs 4.5 tons. It had a window frame of 5.8 meters, made out of high-strength steel plates. At the time, Chinese media said that this was “the world’s largest car window frame”, which, they continued, “reflected the level of China’s steel manufacturing”.

2009 Inside

The CA7600J was developed as a bulletproof vehicle from the ground up, instead of later modification. This meant that the chassis, powertrain, and brakes were able to handle the enormous weight. The doors were wide, and the door sills were even wider. To get over the door sills, Hongqi fitted a steel plate with an integrated stepover. The interior was cushy with loads of beige leather, rosewood, and red carpets.

2009 Inside 2

A large steering wheel with Hongqi’s Golden Sunflower logo in the middle. This logo has been used on and off on the Hongqi state limousines. The steering wheel has extra buttons that control the microphone system. The center stack has a small screen and the audio system includes a CD player.

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The Hongqi CA7600J was the first Chinese inspection car with a V12 under the hood. The 6.0 ( 5.985) liter naturally aspirated engine was developed in-house at FAW. The designation was CA12GV. Output was 408@5600 hp and 550 Nm@4000Nm for a maximum speed of 210 km/h. The engine weight was 310 kilos. The transmission was an eight-speed automatic. The CA7600J was a four-wheel drive car. The engine was proudly displayed on auto shows. It seemed a rather large machine! But that was okay because the CA7600J was a large car: 6395/2004/1720, with a 3900 wheelbase and a 3200-kilo curb weight.

The 2009 CA7600J in the Hongqi Museum in Changchun

Mili Parade Cars 5d

The 2009 inspection car is on display at the Hongqi Museum in Changchun. The car stands on a separate podium in the back of the museum. Visitors can get very close to the front of the vehicle but not to the side or rear. A video of the 2009 parade played on a large screen behind the car, in a permanent loop.

Mili Parade Cars 8a

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When you see these up close, it just seems so enormous. Much larger than it appears on TV, everything seems oversized, and that is probably exactly how the designers intended this car to be.

The auxiliary vehicles

2009 Hu 4

There were six cars in the parade: the main inspection car, the spare-main inspection car, the commander’s car, and three camera-relay cars.

Commander’s car

2009 Hu 15

We can be short about the commander’s car: the same as the main inspection car. The commander’s car is on the left here, with the commander saluting Mr. Hu.

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Spare car

2009 Hu 1

And the spare car was, again, another CA7600J. The license plate was 京V·2050.

Camera cars

2009 Hu 2a

The camera cars were a big thing in the 2009 parade. Every car fanatic in the country fell in love with these machines. And rightly so! They were a modified variant of the CA7600J, with the V12 under the hood and all that, with a landaulet-style open roof. But the coolest feature was the color: a light blue shade complete with darkened windows. There were three camera cars in the parade and they drove in a perfect formation ahead of the main inspection car of Hu Jintao.

2009 Hu 2

The cars are numbered: A, B, and C. The characters on the license plate and the left side of the vehicle (only on the left) were: 新闻采访 (xīnwén caifang), best translated as “to cover the news”. The cars were equipped with cameras, microphones, and transmitters. In this photo the three camera cars before the start of the inspection.

2009 Hu 5

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The C camera car during the parade. It seems pretty tight on the open roof. They didn’t waste any space though, note the photographer in the front passenger seat.

2009 Hu 2za
Via Sina.

The camera cars in formation.

2009 Hu 16

The camera cars were so popular indeed that several Chinese car model makers developed scale-model versions in various scales. The car in the pic is a 1:18 that sold for about $100 back in 2009. They sell for about $200 second-hand today.

Video:

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Extra video can be seen here!

Chinese media gets a tour of the camera car in a secret parade car parking lot.

2009 Hu 3

Hu waves goodbye. Time to go to the next parade.

2015: Hongqi CA7600J. License plate: -. With: Xi Jinping. 

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It was time for another parade only six years later, on September 3, 2015. The Victory Day Parade (胜利日大阅兵) commemorated the 70th anniversary of China’s defeat of Japan in World War II in 1945. This was a new parade in China, it hadn’t been held before. A bit of an odd one, as the PRC didn’t even exist in 1945. But no matter all that – the parade was on. The name Victory Day Parade, shortened in English to V-Day parade, was in itself a shortened variant of the full Chinese name: Parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of the victories of the Anti-Japanese War of the Chinese people and the World Anti-Fascist War (纪念中国人民抗日战争暨世界反法西斯战争胜利70周年阅兵式). President Xi Jinping inspected with a Hongqi CA7600J, the same kind of inspection car used by Hu Jintao in 2009. However, as we shall see, the commander’s car was rather different compared to 2015.

Xi Seal 1

The main inspection car didn’t have a traditional license plate. Instead, it had the National Emblem of the People’s Republic of China on a red background. Xi’s inspection car had four microphones on the roof. I still lived in Beijing in 2015 but the atmosphere was different compared to 2009. Gone were the days I could bicycle anywhere near the parade. The center of town was cordoned off and nearby shops and restaurants had to close. So, like most people, I watched this parade on television at home.

Xi Seal 2

In this high-res photo, we can see the handlebar, located just under the roof. Xi’s right hand is resting on the bar, while he waves with his left hand. Every hand, or so it seems, has a function while inspection.

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Mili Parade Cars 8aa

At the time, Chinese state media published a set of remarkable photos of the inspection cars. The photos were taken before the inspection, showing both the main inspection car and the commander’s car. In this photo, we can see the placeholders for the antennas on the trunk lid.

Mili Parade Cars 8d

A later photo shows the antennas in place.

Mili Parade Cars 8c

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This one is the best! The photo shows the transmitter and the transmitter’s power source: two huge old-school batteries.

The 2015 CA7600J in the Hongqi Museum in Changchun

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The 2015 inspection car is in the museum too, displayed next to the 2009 car, and with a separate video loop behind it.

Xi Seal 9
2013 Hongqi H7.

Auxiliary vehicles

Xi Seal 5

In 2015 there were three camera cars, the commander’s car, and the spare car.

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Spare car

Xi Seal 7

The spare car was another CA7600J with the license plate VA·02015.

Commander’s car

Xi Seal 6
Image credit: People.cn.

The commander’s car was the most-discussed vehicle of the 2015 military parade. For two reasons: it was a significantly smaller vehicle than the main inspection car. This, according to analysts, was done on purpose by Xi to underscore the Communist Party’s command over the military. At the 2009 parade, the main inspection car and the commander’s car were the same. That may be interpreted as equal powers for the military and the Party, and Xi isn’t into equal stuff. There may be some truth in all of this. I researched the role of the armed forces in China for my work for many years, and the army’s political and economic power was indeed sky-high under Hu Jintao. President Xi send the officers back to their barracks, while simultaneously expanding the armed forces budget. But that money is for guns and not for cars so the commander had to do with a smaller one.

Mili Parade Cars 8e

But the main controversy wasn’t about politics but about the car itself. The commander’s car was a Hongqi H7. The H7 debuted in 2013 as a premium mid-size sedan. Like many Hongqi cars of the past, it wasn’t entirely developed in-house. The H7 was instead based… on a Toyota. And that in a parade commemorating the defeat of Japan. The H7 was largely based on the fifth-generation Toyota Crown Majesta (itself based on the S200 13th-generation Toyota Crown).

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The Crown Majesta was made in China at the FAW-Toyota joint venture, so that is how Hongqi got its hands on the platform. Hongqi redesigned it quite a lot. Way more extensive than the earlier Hongqi HQ3, which was based on the S180 Toyota Crown Majesta. Hongqi changed the front and the back, moved the mirrors from the doors to the A-pillars, and added a lot more chrome. The hard points and dimensions remained the same. So many folks wondered why the commander didn’t ride with a real Chinese car. They could have used a smaller version of the CA7600J or a Geely. But the H7 it was. Likely, most Chinese onlookers didn’t even know the H7 was Toyota-based so I guess the ‘damage’ was limited. The license plate of the commander’s car was VA·01945, referring to the year 1945.

Xi Seal 8
2010 FAW-Toyota Crown. It received a unique China-only facelift in 2012.

 

Xi Seal 9
2013 Hongqi H7.

Mili Parade Cars 8f

Who’s the boss?2015 Commander

The commander’s car before the parade with the antennas on the boot lid. The H7 was available with various engines. The commander’s car has a Toyota 3.0 V6 under the hood, with an output of 231 hp and 300 Nm.

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Camera cars

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The 2015 parade used the same camera cars as the 2009 parade. The naming was shortened: 新闻 (xīnwén (news)-1/2/3).

Xi Seal 4

One of the camera cars on the left.

Video:

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2019: Hongqi T196. License plate: -. With: Xi Jinping.

2019 Xi 2

China was back on parade duty just four years later. The Military Parade of the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China (庆祝中华人民共和国成立70周年阅兵式) celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (1949-2019). And finally, there was a new inspection car. It looked a lot like the old one, but it was almost completely new.

2019 Xi 4a
Hongqi L9.

We take a small step back in time: The CA7600J was a purpose-built inspection car. Hongqi also developed a state-limousine version, without microphones and inspection roof. However, the CA7600J created so much buzz that FAW decided to build a ‘normalized’ version of the inspection car on a normal unibody car chassis. This became the Hongqi L-Series. It came in three variants: The L9 long-wheelbase state limousine, the L7 short-wheelbase state limousine, and the L5 sedan for the civilian market. The L9 was still a large car: 5555/2018/1578, with a 3435-millimeter wheelbase. But it was much shorter than the enormous CA7600J which measured: 6395/2004/1720, with a 3900 wheelbase.

2019 Xi 3

The 2019 inspection car was based on the L9 state limousine, albeit with suicide rear doors. It was called the Hongqi T196. The ride height was much lower than with the tank-like CA7600J. It looked more like a car and it had a larger trunk. Sadly, there wasn’t as much shiny stuff as before; there was less chrome around the windows, on the sides, and the bumpers, and it didn’t have the triple-red flag ornament on the front fenders. The mirrors were redesigned too, smaller and with a shorter stalk. Better aero, I bet.

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2019 1

Xi’s car inside the Forbidden City before the parade. The microphones are covered up. It has a white leather interior. The L9/T196 used an updated version of the 6.0 liter V12 engine, now with 415 hp.  Hongqi also developed a twin-turbocharged V8 engine, which was used in the Hongqi L7 and L5 sedans.

2019 Xi 8
Hongqi L5 sedan. Image credit: FAW.

Auxiliary vehicles

2019 Xi 1

The license plates referred to the occasion again.  The spare inspection vehicle had VA·01949 and the commander car had VA·02019. Xi’s inspection car was the same as in 2015. The commander’s car, however, was the facelifted version of the Hongqi H7.

The spare cars

2019 Xi 7

There were two spare cars in the 2019 parade: one for the main inspection car and one for the commander’s car. The latter was a first.

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2019 2

The spare car inside the Forbidden City.

Commander’s car

2019 Xi 5

The commander’s car was still the Hongqi H7, but it was based on the facelifted version, which debuted in 2017. The facelifted H7 had a much larger grille than the original car. Just what it needed.

Cam Xi 7
2017 Hongqi H7 – the facelifted model.

The camera cars

Cam Xi 3

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There was way less attention to camera cars in 2019 than before. That was too bad because the camera cars were all-new too. The new camera car was based on an extended version of the Hongqi L7 SUV. It was extended by 50 centimeters in the middle with a landaulet-style open roof. The cars were painted black but in a slightly lighter shade than the inspection cars. There were a lot of people standing in each camera car, at least six or so, with microphones and cameras.

Cam Xi 6

Like before, there were three camera cars, driving in formation in front of the inspection cars.

Cam Xi 4

They were quite impressive vehicles, but not as cool as the blue sedans of the 2009 and 2015 parades and there are no 1:18 scale models.

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2019 Xi 14

But Hongqi did try to capitalize on the parade cars. At the 2020 Guangzhou Auto Show, Hongqi unveiled the Hongqi HS7+, an ultra-luxurious long-wheelbase variant of the Hongqi HS7 SUV. It was extended by 50 centimeters in the middle, just like the camera car.  It was a concept and it didn’t reach production.

Cam Xi 9
Hongqi HS7.

And elsewhere, Hongqi showed a standard-wheelbase HS7 with flagpoles. But the camera cars in the parade didn’t have flagpoles! Anyway, red flags on a black car always look cool.

Video:

And with this video, we come to the end of this series about Chinese parade cars. The next major parade is in 2025, for the 80 anniversary of the end of WWII. The inspection car for that event will likely be an EV. More on that in two years! But I’ll be back sooner with more Chinese cars and technology.

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Relatedbar

Here’s A Deep Dive Into Chinese Military Parade Inspection Cars That Are Massive And Totally Bulletproof

Here’s A Look At More Fascinating ‘Inspection Cars’ Used By Chinese Presidents And Generals

The Electric Yangwang U9 Supercar Can Literally Jump Thanks To New Twists On Legendary Suspension Tech

 

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Scott
Scott
1 year ago

Tycho, this was a fascinating and fantastically detailed article! Thank you so much!

Love those blue camera cars. 🙂

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 year ago

The Hongqi CA7600J was the first Chinese inspection car with a V12 under the hood. The 6.0 ( 5.985) liter naturally aspirated engine was developed in-house at FAW. The designation was CA12GV. Output was 408@5600 hp and 550 Nm@4000Nm for a maximum speed of 210 km/h. “

Hmmm… those specs look suspiciously close to the Mercedes M120 V12 engine that came out in 1991.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_M120_engine

I would say that it’s very likely there is a lot of Mercedes W140 under the skin of that Hongqi CA7600J.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 year ago

Love the cars, but-
The whole process of guys being driven around slowly while sticking their head out the roof like a labradoodle is more than a little creepy. It’s a lot creepy.

Kevin Cheung
Kevin Cheung
1 year ago

Back in 2019, out of curiosity I visited a Hongqi dealer with my dad to test drive the HS7, their flagship civilian product at the time. They lent us a top-of-the-line model, 3 litre supercharged V6, air suspension, 20-ish speakers, the full works. Ride was fine, the drivetrain was refined (enough), but the interior needed a lot work on QC (nicked my finger folding up the third row, got a real deep cut 🙁

At the time it was sold at 60K USD, which was honestly alright for what you got. We were concerned about long term reliability though, especially with the air shocks. 2 months later my dad ended up with a T6 XC90 (without air shocks of course)

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
1 year ago

I never realized you were the one behind these articles, Tycho! I’ve always loved CarNewsChina and your other projects, and I’m so glad to see you contributing here!

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 year ago

One of the things I love about Tycho’s articles is how the styling of the cars points up cultural differences. Those protruding headlights on the L5 would never be paired with a rearend that reminds me of last decade’s Dodge in America.
Not saying right or wrong-just that I enjoy seeing the differences.

Aceto Balsamico
Aceto Balsamico
1 year ago

the L5 looks to me like a modern take on the Peugeot 404

A M A Z I N G

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago

Downsizing the commander’s car is just the kind of stuff dictators spend their time dreaming up.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 year ago

I have to comment before delving in. Make a squashed circle with thumb & index finger and look at just the front facia of the 2nd picture (Hu Jintao, tag 02009): it looks so happy! And the headlight bezels make it look like a widened original Mini with eyelashes.
Just me? Whatever: made me chuckle

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
1 year ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Alright now I can’t unsee that!

CSRoad
CSRoad
1 year ago

These are great articles exposing a piece of the automotive world that is completely foreign to me. Thanks.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
1 year ago

Really neat looking cars in my book. They are right, that blue on the camera cars is pretty great.

I would like to suggest that editors add the Imperial measurements in parenthesis in articles like this. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I’m assuming the large majority of readers here are from the US. While I know immediately how long 14mm is, once you get to the thousands I lose all frame of reference and have to put really thinkery in to it. Perhaps I’m alone in being too lazy to do that, which is totally on me! Anyway, something to consider.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

“While I know immediately how long 14mm is”

That’s what she said. 😉

ExAutoJourno
ExAutoJourno
1 year ago

I LOVE these articles!

Imagine the fuss one of these cars could stir up at Cars & Coffee…especially when painted Camera Car Blue!

One thing I’d like to see from Tycho, though I imagine it would be more difficult than scoring a test drive of Hu’s personal limo: I seem to recall some strange little machines (built, I suppose, for those among the Masses who could afford a car) produced in China during the 1950s. Some info on them would be much appreciated. Possible?

James Duffy
James Duffy
1 year ago

This is a wonderful article, thank you!

What me?
What me?
1 year ago

Those eyelashes on the headlights are a thing of beauty

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 year ago

Well that is an excellent use of resources, develop a V12 engine to transport 2 people at 15mph. I guess some pigs ARE more equal than others.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
1 year ago

That engine is beautiful! Also the blue camera cars

Harris K Telemacher
Harris K Telemacher
1 year ago

I like the large Yondu arrow-controlling hood ornaments.

Robot Turds
Robot Turds
1 year ago

These remind me exactly of the ugly ass cars that also served in parades in the Soviet Unions. I think they were GAZ? But either way. These things are fugly as hell.

Last edited 1 year ago by Robot Turds
Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago
Reply to  Robot Turds

GAZ did build Chaikas, the next limo down from ZiL in the prestige hierarchy, not impossible for one of those to mix into a parade now and then. Also Krushchev apparently personally preferred the Chaika M13 over ZiL

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