China's subtle change to make sure it's ready for war
Beijing continues to press on with its vast 'combat preparation'.
A subtle change from Beijing could have big implications for China's preparedness for war as speculation of military conflict over Taiwan continues to simmer.
China enforced new conscription rules on May 1 that allows retired veterans to be recalled and "highly qualified" university graduates to be recruited into the army which continues its focus on "combat preparation".
Chinese state media said the "necessary" move would allow China to "improve combat capability during wartime amid a turbulent world".
It's the latest move from President Xi Jinping who has funded an unrivalled military splurge as head of the Chinese Communist Party as he presses on with territorial advances in the South China Sea, and his unwavering desire to reunify the democratic island state of Taiwan.
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Fengming Lu of ANU's Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs told Yahoo News Australia that while the move shouldn't be interpreted by Taiwan, or the US and Australia, as a provocative move, it is another step to ensure China's readiness for conflict.
"Traditionally, the PLA (People's Liberation Army) used to prefer young, less educated men from the poorer countryside who are more obedient and willing to endure hardships. However, the PLA nowadays needs better educated soldiers and officers to operate sophisticated weapons and engage in modern warfare," he said.
"Of course, this subtle policy change is a stone that aims to kill two birds. The youth unemployment rate in China has risen to an unprecedented level of 20 per cent this year.
"As roughly one in every two Chinese who were born after 2000 goes to university, joining the military may be an alternative for young college graduates in China who are struggling to find jobs."
The revised law will place a focus on "high-calibre" graduates with training in high tech areas including artificial intelligence and robotics and recruits will be required to work with space satellites and cyber drones, Nikkei Asia reported.
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China's defence ministry spokesperson Tan Kefei boasted the change would allow China to respond to conflict "swiftly and seamlessly".
China increases exit bans on citizens
Another controlling measure China is applying to residents involves placing bans on them leaving the country.
Scores of Chinese and foreigners have been ensnared by exit bans, according to a new report by the rights group Safeguard Defenders, while a Reuters analysis has found an apparent surge of court cases involving such bans in recent years, and foreign business lobbies are voicing concern about the trend.
"Since Xi Jinping took power in 2012, China has expanded the legal landscape for exit bans and increasingly used them, sometimes outside legal justification," the Safeguard Defenders report reads.
"Between 2018 and July of this year, no less than five new or amended laws provide for the use of exit bans, for a total today of 15 laws," said Laura Harth, the group's campaign director.
The group estimates "tens of thousands" of Chinese are banned from exit at any one time.
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