China has updated its military conscription law, to entice retired service personnel to return, while also seeking to recruit college students with space and cyber warfare skills.
New rules for the People’s Liberation Army, endorsed by the State Council and Central Military Commission, came into force on Monday (May 1).
The guidelines say conscription should “focus on preparations for war,” and recruiting highly skilled personnel, including former soldiers.
The PLA has been overhauled in the decade since Xi Jinping became president amid long-held ambitions to take control of Taiwan, possibly in coming years.
Bid to boost PLA combat capacity, quality
The Global Times said last month the new rules emphasise “recruiting highly qualified college students and stipulating rules for recalling skilled veterans during wartime”.
“This is a necessary move for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as China is deepening systematic reform of the military as well as improving combat capability during wartime amid a turbulent world, experts said.
“The newly revised regulation stipulates that, should a state of war be declared, main attention could be shifted to conscript skilled veterans in order to form combat capacity rapidly.
“Conscripting soldiers from highly educated college students will help the PLA to increase overall quality and build a professionalized force,” it quoted Song Zhongping, a Chinese military commentator, as saying.
“The key is to ensure the military can rapidly scale up combat capacity and make the process more operable and executable given the turbulent world,” the state media report said.
This news came shortly after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen’s meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California and a naval base tour by President Xi.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies published its annual space threat assessment in mid-April, warning that China was becoming a world leader in space, while noting commercial and state military efforts appeared to overlap.
Its potential for cyber warfare has also increased, according to The Guardian, which noted that recruitment intake periods were doubled in 2021 and now occur twice a year.
- Jim Pollard