OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 12:42 PM – Saturday, April 15, 2023
Beijing has announced new revisions to its conscription policy, stating that should China enter into a war, military veterans and college students can expect to be drafted first.
The steps taken by Beijing are seen as a necessary step to help modernize the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as well as improving its total combat effectiveness.
Many experts have said that the new changes that China is implementing in the draft is a strategy that runs contrary to traditional draft practices. However, Heino Klinck, the former deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia and military attaché to China told Fox News that Chinese leader Xi Jinping is trying to bolster his military by “ensuring that all segments of Chinese society are a part of the national military buildup.”
“It fits into the context of PLA modernization,” Klinck said. “The PLA has historically been a military based on conscripts from the countryside. I think Chinese President Xi Jinping is trying to further bolster his communist bona fide by ensuring that all segments of Chinese society are a part of the national military buildup.”
According to a government announcement, Beijing wants to “provide institutional guarantees for consolidating national defense and building strong armed forces” by “recruiting more high-caliber soldiers.”
According to Klinck, the changes to China’s conscription policies are not a surprise, but their timing is a cause for concern.
The announcement had come days after United States lawmakers traveled to Taiwan in a show of solidarity with the small island nation after Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-Wen had visited the U.S. and met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Beijing had protested the visit by launching its combat exercises around Taiwan, which simulated sealing off access to the island, and had crossed the boundary line between the two.
“I don’t know what’s worse: that they are tone-deaf or are they intentionally messaging?” Klinck said. “The Chinese are usually pretty good when it comes to messaging and consistency. I think that this is once again an indication that we should not anticipate the Chinese Communist Party softening its stance on Taiwan, softening its stance on the South China Sea or any other contentious geopolitical issue of concern.”
China’s top universities already have military departments in their institutions where students can obtain military training alongside their education. According to a PLA newspaper, a top official in China’s Central Military Commission said that colleges and universities “play an essential role” in the recruitment process, and that students with a background in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are highly sought after.
The changes are based on three main practical considerations, “specific measures to implement the decision and plans of the Party Central Committee, the requirement to adapt to the deepening reform of national defense and the military, and the practical need to recruit high-quality soldiers.”
It is currently unknown how many people China’s latest policy change will add to its military, which already boasts two million personnel, or how the PLA will hold up to advanced militaries in the world, such as the U.S. military.
Western military officials have also been warning about the possibility of an invasion of Taiwan by Beijing by 2027. President Joe Biden faced backlash at the end of 2022 when he said he would send the U.S. military to defend the Island of Taiwan in case of a Chinese attack.
The Chinese government’s bolstering of its military preparations come at a time of high tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.
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