China's army eases curbs to draw more educated recruits: paper

SHANGHAI Mon Jun 16, 2014 11:16pm EDT

People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers fire weapons during training in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, April 14, 2014. Picture taken April 14, 2014. REUTERS/China Daily

People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers fire weapons during training in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, April 14, 2014. Picture taken April 14, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/China Daily

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's military is setting its sights on better educated entrants, relaxing height, weight and vision requirements while cutting back on candidates without high school diplomas, the China Daily said on Tuesday.

China has the world's biggest military, with 2.3 million men and women in uniform, and its defense spending is second only to that of the United States. In the past decade it has kicked off an ambitious modernization drive, developing new weapons systems and upgrading the force.

The People's Liberation Army has lowered the minimum height requirement for recruits, raised the maximum weight limit, reduced eyesight standards and even begun taking on recruits with once-taboo tattoos, the English-language newspaper quoted the Defense Ministry's recruitment office as saying.

"Enlisting more high-quality soldiers is extremely important to building a strong and capable military," it said.

The PLA has also removed mental illnesses including schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder, as barriers to recruitment, it said.

The cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing will only accept recruits with at least a high school diploma, and other regions will gradually accept fewer enlistees without diplomas, it said.

(Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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