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October 22, 2009

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Army gets smart in recruitment

THE People's Liberation Army will recruit 130,000 graduates from Chinese colleges and universities this winter to raise the quality of the armed forces and help mitigate the job crisis facing young people.

The Ministry of Education said yesterday that graduates who signed up in June for military service should report to recruiting stations across the country early next month when annual conscription begins.

Those who have not registered can still apply to join the army.

If recruited, every student-turned-soldier will receive up to 24,000 yuan (US$3,515) as compensation for college tuition fees or student loans.

The money, paid from central government's budget, is roughly equal to the tuition fee for a four-year university education in China.

The move was just part of the incentives announced this year to encourage more Chinese youth with higher educations to serve in the army.

They will also have more chances for promotion and education at a military academy.

In addition, after finishing the two-year compulsory service, they will enjoy preferential treatment while seeking jobs at law-enforcement departments.

PLA recruits are usually men between age 18 and 20 and women who are 18 or 19. But the age limit can be extended to 24 for those with a bachelor's degree.

The Chinese army previously relied mostly on high school graduates and the unemployed, although all males age 18 to 22 are nominally obliged to undergo two years of service under the country's conscription law.

But most college students participate only in a month-long military training program that usually takes place in their first month of campus life.

China's State Council revised the government's recruitment regulations in September 2001 to enlist college students for the first time in a pilot scheme. More than 2,000 students were recruited in that year.

The move to lure more college graduates is part of the army's efforts to sharpen its high-tech edge.

The job market downturn since last year due to the global economic downturn and a surplus of graduates are also driving many young people to choose the army as an alternative to employment.

A Defense Ministry survey in July found that among more than 6 million college and university graduates, about 1.44 million male graduates were interested in military service.


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