Russia has used the “Z” symbolism on its tanks and military vehicles. But, as our Editor-in-Chief Sean Spoonts pointed out, these markings have different meanings and allow Russian forces to recognize each other on the battlefield.

The Letter “Z” represents the Eastern Military District and also covers other interpretations like “Za pobedy,” which means “for victory,” or “Zapad,” which means “West.” Another purported meaning for the “Z” mark is “Zorro Squad” or “Zelensky,” showing opposition to the Ukrainian president.

Still, there is no confirmation of the definitive, unifying meaning for Z. But, the big question now is why is a Chinese military vehicle featuring the “Z” mark?

Dongfeng EQ2050
Dongfeng EQ2050 photographed in Beijing, China. (Source: Navigator84/Wikimedia)

Last week, Chinese social media showed a snapshot of a viral military vehicle with the letter “Z.” Though it’s not the hand-written “Z” mark we’ve seen in the Russian military, it’s still interesting to learn why this marking is now on Chinese vehicles.

The vehicle in question is China’s very own Dongfeng EQ2050, which is basically a copycat of the American HMMWV—locally known as Mengshi; the Chinese army constantly uses this vehicle for regular military transportation. The 4×4 EQ2050 follows the form and function of the American HUMVEE, with highlights on its wide-body design.

The front of the vehicle has a dominant grille with recessed headlamps. It has hinged doors for the passengers and a rear section that can be rearranged as a flatbed for overnight missions.

The EQ2050 is used for various purposes in the Chinese military, including anti-aircraft transportation, armored car support for the troops, and an anti-tank/anti-armor base model for protecting soldiers from enemy attacks at range. This vehicle is also used for reconnaissance, especially for highly sensitive scout missions on rough terrain locations. The EQ2050 can also be custom-fitted to carry ammunition, including the 12.7 mm machine gun, 35 mm automatic grenade launcher, and other weapons.

Though this vehicle has been speculated as a private property, supposedly registered in Liaoning, Northeast China, its symbolism could still spark discussions on China’s intentions to back Russia in their Ukrainian invasion.