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Chinese military relaxes rules to allow shorter, ‘more portly’ soldiers

Bloomberg

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.

Male recruits can now be 1.6 meters tall, down from 1.62 meters, while the minimum height for women will reduced by the same margin to 1.58 meters, the paper said Tuesday, citing the Ministry of Defense’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 percent of high school and university students in China are shortsighted, it said. Mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, dissociative disorder, depression and bipolar disorder, have also been removed from a list of conditions barring candidates from enlisting, according to the paper.

The looser requirements come as President Xi Jinping tries to hone the world’s largest army by head count into a professional fighting force capable of winning wars. Efforts by China’s military to attract better-educated recruits to match its modern weaponry has been hampered by a decline in the health of candidates. According to Beijing’s army recruitment office, Some 60 percent of college students fail the physical fitness examination, with most graduates being overweight.

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

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