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People's Daily Online>>China Military

PLA zeroes in on college hiring

By Zhao Shengnan and Li Xiaokun  (China Daily)

09:45, December 22, 2011

Yang Songcheng (left) and Yang Jinghuan are brothers from Ganyu county, Jiangsu province, and students at Xuzhou College of Industrial Technology. Their parents pin red flowers on them, honoring their commitment to the army, at a farewell party before they left home on Dec 10 to begin military training. (China Daily/Si Wei)

Li Yueyue's dream to become a solider seemed to be a mission impossible a few months ago. The biggest obstacle: He is nearsighted, failing to meet the newly amended Military Service Law that requires college recruits have uncorrected vision of at least 4.5, slightly less than the perfect 5.0.

Thanks to a deregulation, however, that obstacle was removed and the 21-year-old became a soldier of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) on Dec 8.

Li, a sophomore journalism major, is one of the 16 Tsinghua University students who applied and were accepted for military service. He said the group includes a somewhat chubby young man who also passed the physical.

"If not for the relaxed rules exclusively for college students, I would never become a soldier," Li said.

Today's military relies increasingly on technically sophisticated weaponry, so it is eager to attract better-educated recruits. Under the amendment approved on Nov 1, the PLA is providing preferential treatment and has eased restrictions on age and physical condition for all recruits in this winter's class.

Those with facial or neck tattoos will now qualify for service if the decorations are no wider than 2 centimeters. Prohibitions on ear piercings also have been eliminated, as long as the holes are not too obvious. Other body piercings are still not allowed.

New weight rules permit a recruit to be a little heavier or a little thinner than allowed in the past. Female soldiers can be 2 centimeters shorter than before.

Full-time college students may be as old as 24 when they enlist; high school graduates must be 21 or younger.

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