Scholarly soldiers

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/19 17:53:39

PLA newspaper denies that military is a refuge for those unable to get into college

A group of college students celebrate joining the military in Huainan Normal University, East China's Anhui Province in September 2016. Photo: IC

The People's Liberation Army (PLA)'s flagship newspaper recently responded to netizens who suggested that the military is the last refuge for those who fail China's highly competitive college entrance examinations, or gaokao.

When this year's gaokao ended on June 8, jokes such as "Did not do well in the gaokao? The army welcomes you" and "Preparing poorly for the gaokao in June, we'll be brothers in the army in September" were widely circulated online.

"Netizens who spread these comments made a big mistake!" the PLA Daily said.

The PLA is comprehensive military containing armored, artillery navy and air defense forces following the massive military reform that was launched in the end of 2015, and its future soldiers will be a digitized force that are professional, brainy and of strong body and mind, the PLA Daily wrote.

It's an obligation

Some people are biased against China's military forces and deliberately belittle the quality of its soldiers, and some celebrities have even publicly said that very few of the PLA's sailors posses a primary school education, according to the PLA Daily.

"People who suggest students who fail the gaokao can then join the army have ulterior motives, as serving in the army is an obligation and responsibility for all citizens," Li Daguang, a professor at the National Defense University of the PLA, told the Global Times, adding that those netizens have tried to escape their obligation to serve in the military, which is outlined in China's Constitution.

Everyone should be proud of serving in the military, but besides being an obligation, serving is also a career as soldiers can pursue higher positions, Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military commentator who served in the Second Artillery Corps of the PLA (now known as the Rocket Force), told the Global Times.

Lots of people including some celebrities have benefited from their military service, the PLA Daily reported. Successful entrepreneurs including Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei, Lenovo founder Liu Chuanzhi and Wanda Group president Wang Jianlin all served in the army.

Wang once called Wanda's culture "army, school and enterprise," which meant that company should learn organizational lessons from the army.

"Military camps have always been a great school for the growth and success of young students, where they temper their character and bolster willpower," the newspaper commented.

Eying the educated

A source in Chongqing who is familiar with military recruitment officers told the Global Times that he has helped a dozen high school graduates who failed the gaokao to join the military in recent years.

Most of the students were naughty or lazy, and their parents hoped the military would reshape them for the better, according to the source.

"But in the past two years, it has become more and more difficult as the PLA has raised its threshold in both education and health checks," said the source, who requested anonymity, adding that military recruitment officers tend to prefer college students or college graduates above all others. 

According to Song, in the past most of China's soldiers were educated to a high-school level, and some people with no more than a middle school degree could also join up. But as the development of the PLA has progressed, tougher educational requirements have been gradually introduced.

"The ongoing military reforms highlight information technology and modernized weapons, which people with middle school or high school degrees can hardly handle," Song said.

The PLA will no longer recruit high school graduates and college students as reservist officers from this year onwards; instead, it will recruit only college graduates as part of a push to better utilize educational resources and provide a platform for high-quality graduates to serve in the army, the Xinhua News Agency reported in May.

China has adopted preferential policies to attract college students since 2009 when China started to repay new graduates' tuition fees if they joined the PLA, and two years later, China began offering tuition fees of up to 6,000 yuan ($881) per year to students who suspend their studies to join the military, Xinhua reported.

There are no statistics available on the total number of college students or graduates who serve in the military every year.

Posted in: SOCIETY

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