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November 23, 2009

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Army attracts college women

HAD the examiners not been wearing the green uniforms, the interview might be taken as one for art college.

Some girls were dancing, some were singing and others were playing musical instruments.

It was, believe it or not, an audition for the military.

Cao Liuliu sat in front of an officer, holding a pencil. Ten minutes later, the face of the officer appeared on canvas. People gasped in admiration.

"Competition of military recruitment this year is so fierce. We need to display our long suit so as to get enrolled," said Cao, 22, from the Nanjing Arts Institute in east China's Jiangsu Province.

China is in the midst of a drive to recruit females, including university students.

"The female soldiers will mostly be working for communication, health care and entertainment such as dancing and playing musical instruments," said a recruitment official in Jiangsu.

Thousands will be recruited especially for the upcoming World Expo to be guides and security guards.

In Jiangsu, more than 2,000 registered at the provincial recruitment office in the first three days.

In northeastern China's Jilin Province, thousands of girls applied to become soldiers, despite just 200 openings.

Many started to queue up at 6am in 12-below zero (Celsius) temperatures.

You Qi, 22, was a major in Chinese literature, but said becoming a soldier had always been her dream.

Her view was shared by Wang Yuefei, a law major from Changchun Taxation College in Jilin.

"I watched the National Day parade and I found the women soldiers so cool," said the fashionable girl with light makeup.

Recruitment office

The grim job situation is heightening interest in the military. So are the privileges that college graduates can gain after serving two years.

According to Wang Naigang, of the Jilin provincial military recruitment office, college graduates can enjoy up to 6,000 yuan (US$880) each year as reimbursement for tuition fees. After serving, students can get preferential consideration for graduate school.

"This is really attractive," said Xi Xueni, an international trade major.

Recruiting college graduates is also seen as a benefit to the People's Liberation Army, which previously has relied mostly on high school graduates and the unemployed.

Xu Zuolin, a professor with the National University of Defense Technology, said the fast development of military technologies required more knowledgeable soldiers. "Battles in modern societies are technology battles and information battles," he said.


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