Sunday, March 11, 2007

Military training

All Chinese university students have the first 4-6 weeks of their tuition off from lessons. Instead, they are trained by the Chinese army, using university ground and facilities. Uniforms are provided, as well as weapons. Training begins at around 7.00-7.30am, and finished at 5pm, with an hour or two for funch. Training activities include, in no particular order: marching on the spot, sitting in a grid on the ground for two hours, sweating, rifle usage, marching backwards, and my favourite, breaking from marching in formation into a disorderly rabble of 18 year old students.

My first impression was that this was really unusual - education and "defence" are usually considered fairly separate activities in the cultures I've previously seen. Indeed, often there at odds with each other - you can either get educated, or failing that, maybe go into the military! Here, you may miss military training if you don't get into university (which is incredibly hard here). Even first-year Finance students have military theory lessons. However, China manages to allocate a lot less than some countries to defence - officially 1.35% of GDP, and unofficial guesses say no higher than 3%.

The whole process (compulsory for both men and women) is conducted under a roasting early September sun, and fainting girls are not uncommon. As with every school, it usually takes about 4 other girls to accompany a fainting one to water, and for boy, at least 2 extra are required. Students don't really state much of an opinion on military training. The whole process culminates in a weekend parade in front of higher-ranking officers.

Without further ado - pictures and videos!

Repurposed playing field:

Getting into formation - there must be hundreds of students on this small field:

Military is in green, watch out for jeans and adidas trainers:

Rifle practice:

Very pointy toes:

Walking backwards, and girls in a separate group:

Turn into a rabble:

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