Frontier officers and soldiers encourage students to join the army at a middle school in Changle, Fujian province, in May. (Zhang Guojun / Xinhua)
The Chinese military has relaxed its physical standards for new recruits in an effort to attract more young people with higher education backgrounds.
The height requirement for a male candidate has been adjusted from 162 centimeters to 160 cm and for female candidates, from 160 cm to 158 cm, according to the Defense Ministry's recruitment office.
The upper weight limit for male enlistees was also relaxed to allow more portly young men into the military.
This year's enrollment will start on Aug 1 and end on Sept 30; university students or graduates can apply earlier, the recruitment office said.
The new standards also lowered eyesight requirements because nearly 70 percent of high school and university students in China are nearsighted.
The People's Liberation Army is also more tolerant of tattoos, which had been regarded as a taboo in the military. People who have less than 2 cm of tattoos showing on their body while in uniform or 10 cm of total ink are allowed to join the military.
Tattoos with obscene or violent matter or referring to illegal organizations will disqualify candidates.
The PLA has also for the first time removed mental illnesses from a list that would bar candidates from military service, including schizophrenia, dissociative disorder, depression and bipolar disorder.
The four municipalities of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing, and provincial capitals, as well as regions with high concentrations of universities, will recruit only among those who have at least a high school diploma. Other cities or regions will gradually reduce the number of recruits without a high school education, according to the office.
Enlisting more high-quality soldiers is extremely important to building a strong and capable military, recruitment officials said, noting the PLA has created a host of preferential policies to attract young people.
In Jiangsu, an eastern province that thrives in manufacturing and trade, new recruits who have university diplomas or were studying in a university before joining the military will earn at least 159,200 yuan ($25,600) during their two years of service. Those who suspend their college education to join the military can also resume their studies upon retiring from the military.
"Joining the PLA is a good choice regarding financial benefits and career," said Sun Qianlong, a staff officer at the Jiangsu recruitment office. "We hope that more talented people can join the military and serve the country."
The province enlisted about 30,000 men and 700 women in 2013.
Fang Lizhong, who oversees recruitment in Nanjing's Gulou district, said: "Recruits who have university diplomas or were studying in a university will enjoy seven benefits from the military, including priority admission to military colleges, government coverage for tuition and 10 extra scores in the national postgraduate admission test."
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