The Chinese Communist Party recently released a nationwide troop recruitment campaign. It is mainly targeting university students and priority is given to those with technical sciences and engineering. In addition, student recruitment was extended to 26 year olds for the first time due to a high-unemployment rate, and a severe shortage of personnel in the military.

CCP announces large-scale military call-up

The People’s Daily, an official Chinese media outlet, on Aug. 8 broadcast news on its official Weibo account, “Join the army to show gratitude to the nation! The army will be deployed in the second half of this year.” The message continues: “National military recruitment will be carried out in the second half of 2022.” 

Next, the mainland news site “Sohu” also reported related news. It pointed out that after the CCP officially announced the “raising an army,” the provinces responded positively. In the second half of the year, Zhejiang Province will launch a full medical examination for military recruitment. Currently, the province’s applicant numbers for the second half of the year has exceeded 110,000, including 50,000 undergraduate students and 27,000 graduates.

More than 20,000 young men are applying to join the army in Jilin Province. At the same time, 11 health examination sites in Qingdao City, Shandong Province, were opened, and more than 3,000 young candidates took the medical examination. University graduates registered to check exceeded 90%. Chengde City, Hebei Province has introduced a number of reward policies to mobilize local youth to join the army. Jiangsu Province has also stepped up efforts to spread the news about enlistment. Jiangsu Province hired Qian Qihu, winner of the “August 1st Medal,” as its image ambassador, adding to recruitment appeal.

Vision Times compiled some comments from Weibo netizens: “Graduates and undergraduates can apply, which is equivalent to adding a new job channel. College students joining the army could become as popular as the civil service exam.”

Another said: “The second half of this year will prioritize the selection of science and engineering university students and talents with the necessary skills to prepare for war. Everyone should already understand what this means. I hope that the vision requirements of the candidates will be lowered a bit. After so many years of schooling, their eyesight may not meet the standard anymore.”

Others guessed: “It should have two reasons: the lack of troop unification and to reduce the unemployment rate”; “If it’s hard to find a job, everyone should go to the army.”

China’s unemployment rate hits lowest level since 2018

According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics of China on July 15, 2022, China’s urban unemployment rate was 5.5%. The unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds is 19.3%, that is, 1 in 5 young people is unemployed. This is the highest number since the indicator was published in January 2018.

The Special Investigation Report on Tourism Unemployment during the Pandemic released by the All China Chamber of Commerce and Tourism and other organizations in February shows that, since the outbreak Wuhan three years ago, a large number of jobs in the tourism industry have gradually disappeared. Organizations such as the Chinese Tourism Industry Trade Association pointed out that the current stable employment of tourism workers accounts for only 13.8% and the unemployment rate is as high as 68.1%.More than 60% of employees have been unemployed for more than a year.

Zheng Yuhuang, a professor at Qinghua University, said in a video that in the first half of this year, under the siege of the pandemic, many Chinese businesses defaulted on debt. According to statistics, by the end of June, 460,000 businesses in China had closed and 3.1 million individual business households have been wiped out. In April, company liquidations grew by more than 23% year-on-year. The employment situation is not positive with so many businesses closing.

Chinese youth refuse military service

The CCP’s difficult troop recruitment problem has also surfaced in recent years. Previously, there were several public reports in state media of the CCP severely punishing those who refused to perform military service.

For example: On November 11, 2020, Wu Zhengbang was discharged from the army for refusing to perform his military duties. He was also fined and put on the list of severely dishonest subjects, his household (personal) information will show that he once refused to perform military service. For this young man, his future work will be affected.

On April 2, 2021, the government of Shunshan District, Hefei City, Anhui Province issued an announcement: Liu Shuai, male, 20 years old, was to serve in the military in the Xinjiang military region in September 2020. After getting to Xinjiang he decided he didn’t want to serve. Officers tried to change his mind but to no avail, so he was discharged.

On Sept. 14 and Sept. 24, 2020, the government of Xinzhou District, Shangrao City, Jiangxi Province and Wenshan City, Yunnan Province announced that a university graduate in their jurisdiction had been heavily fined for refusing to perform military service, the penalties included a fine of $3,000 (20,000 yuan), being put on the list of disbelievers, not being employed as civil servants or employee in state-owned enterprises for two years, not allowed to go abroad, not allowed to go to postgraduate school, and cannot work for three years.

Another refusal of military service occurred in Henan. In August 2018, Henan media reported that six local young men newly conscripted into the army in 2017, immediately became “deserters” and were reported to have refused to perform military service.

In January 2018, it was reported that two young men from Fu’an City, Fujian Province firmly refused to perform military service after enlisting and were sent home. At the same time, Fu’an City issued 6 penalties for these two young men, for “rejecting military service,” there lack of service was permanently recorded in their household information; their family members have also been implicated. Their family members are not entitled to welfare such as applying for minimum living allowance and loans for three years.

Why is it difficult for China to get army recruits?

The Vision Times quoted Yao Cheng, a former lieutenant colonel of China’s Naval Command, saying that there are many reasons. The first is the corruption of the Chinese military, the second is that the Chinese military is to protect the interests of the CCP, and there are also problems such as difficulty finding a job after retirement.

Especially now that many families in China only have one child, so the parents do not want their children to “go into dangerous places.”

Huang Dong, a senior military researcher, once wrote in Hong Kong’s Apple Daily that after the “June 4” incident in 1989, the image of the Chinese military has been greatly damaged. Since the 1990s, with the gradual advancement of internet technology, young people in many cities can “circumvent the firewall” or search for information, so their perception is clearer before the military’s brainwashing.

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