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China: military training for students?

According to an article posted on the World Socialist Website, China issued a student military training programme, jointly by the ministry of education, the general staff headquarters and the general political department of the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) on 21 April. This programme formalises military training throughout the country’s high schools and universities.

According to the article, China already has a system of conscription on paper, requiring all citizens aged 18-22 to carry out 24 months of military service. In practice, Beijing has never enforced the draft as the PLA has always been able to recruit enough volunteers from peasant youth, desperate to get out of the impoverished countryside. Young people seeking to enter tertiary education have been exempt from military service.

A significant component of the military training is ideological. The stated aim is “to allow students to grasp basic military skills and theory, and enhance their understanding of defence and the consciousness of national security”. The plan is to strengthen the submission of students to “organisation” and “discipline”, as well as to instill the values of “patriotism”, “collectivism” and “revolutionary heroism”.

The new policy calls for an expansion of defence courses and professional military staff on tertiary campuses. In each high school, at least one director must be appointed in charge of the military training. Education departments will establish a system of joint offices with the PLA to direct school military training. The new military training will be compulsory for all high school and college students, and their performance will be part of their education records.

Source: WSWS, 10 May 2007