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China to accept shorter, more portly soldiers

WANTED: Chinese soldiers performing drills in Beijing in 2011. Efforts to attract better-educated recruits have been hampered by a decline in the health of candidates.


    Jun 18, 2014

    China to accept shorter, more portly soldiers


    CHINA'S military has relaxed its height, eyesight and weight requirements for soldiers in an effort to attract more educated personnel, the state-owned China Daily newspaper said yesterday.

    Male recruits can now be 1.6m tall, down from 1.62m, while the minimum height for women has been reduced by the same margin to 1.58m, the paper said, citing the Ministry of Defence's recruitment office.

    The upper weight limit for male enlistees was also relaxed to "allow more portly young men" into the military, it said.

    Eyesight standards were also lowered because nearly 70 per cent of high school and university students in China are short-sighted, it said.

    Mental illnesses including schizophrenia, dissociative disorder, depression and bipolar disorder have also been removed from a list of conditions preventing candidates from enlisting, according to the paper.

    The looser requirements come as President Xi Jinping tries to hone the world's largest army by headcount into a professional fighting force capable of winning wars.

    Efforts by China's military to attract better-educated recruits to match its modern weaponry have been hampered by a decline in the health of candidates. According to Beijing's army recruitment office, some 60 per cent of college students fail the physical fitness examination, with most graduates being overweight, the China Daily reported in August.

    Today, the average Chinese soldier is 2cm taller and has a waist 5cm larger than 20 years ago, the paper reported in February, saying some were too big to fit comfortably in tanks.

    China's height demands are still tougher than in the United States Army, which accepts soldiers who are 1.52m tall, according to measurements published on

    The People's Liberation Army will also be more tolerant of tattoos, the China Daily said. People who have less than 2cm of tattoos showing while in uniform, or a total of 10cm of tattoos, are now allowed to join the military, it said.

    But tattoos with "obscene or violent matter, or referring to illegal organisations" will not be allowed.

    Enlisting more high-quality soldiers is "extremely important" for building a strong and capable military, the China Daily said, citing recruitment officials.

    Military recruits with university diplomas from eastern Jiangsu province will earn at least 159,200 yuan (S$32,000) during their two years of service, it said.