According to analysts, to modernise the Chinese military needs people with specialised skills. Beijing's new White Paper on Taiwan envisages reunification with less autonomy than previously offered to the island.
Rome (AsiaNews) – China is set to begin its semi-annual military recruitment in mid-August. This follows the end of its military exercises around Taiwan that started on 4 August in response to a visit to the island by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this month.
Amid the tensions, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) extended for the first time the maximum recruitment age from 24 to 26 years, with priority given to graduates with scientific and technological training and people with military skills.
According to the state-owned China Central Television (CCTV), more than 110,000 people have enlisted in the army in the eastern province of Zhejiang; 50,000 are university students and 27,000 graduates.
A young man told the TV channel that he had enlisted over the situation in the Taiwan Strait.
The Beijing Evening News noted that several army combat units are looking for new recruits with professional skills, as the process of weapons and equipment modernisation accelerates.
The PLA want personnel specialised in computer science, communications, engineering, equipment repairing, and drones.
According to analysts, China is preparing for a future hi-tech war, and the military is eager to incorporate more educated young people to improve their capabilities.
Official statistics show that in June the unemployment rate among young Chinese 16 to 24 hit 19.3 per cent. This year, for the first time, the number of graduates exceeded 10 million.
The slowdown in the economy and the rise in patriotic sentiment over the Taiwan issue could encourage more young people to join the military.
Taiwan reacted to China’s manoeuvres with its own exercises. However, according to analysts, Beijing could make the latest military drill around the island permanent, establishing an air and naval blockade. In fact, it has already launched cyber and disinformation attacks against Taipei.
Chinese hackers have already targeted the websites of Taiwanese government agencies and universities. Digital bulletins at supermarkets and railway stations displayed swearing sentences against Pelosi.
China yesterday published a third White Paper on Taiwan, reiterating that it does not exclude the use of force to take back the island, deemed a “rebel” province.
The document shows Xi Jinping's hard-line towards Taiwan, which must accept reunification according to the principle of “one country, two systems”, rejected by Taiwan’s main parties.
The new White Paper provides far less autonomy than previously offered. In the 1993 and 2000 papers, Beijing made the promise of “not sending Chinese troops or administrators to Taiwan”. Now that pledge is no longer included.
Likewise, no longer in the White Paper is the sentence “everything can be negotiated” as long as Taiwan accepts the existence of only one China and does not seek independence.
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