The new census of China showed a drop in fertility rate causing the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to face a significant challenge as it seeks to fill the need of hundreds of recruits each year, being the world’s largest military.
Military expert Antony Wong Tong said that many mainland military officials and observers had voiced concerns about the impact of the one-child policy of China on the military since 1993. Professor Liu Mingfu from the PLA National Defence University in 2012 alerted that at least 70 percent of PLA soldiers were from one-child families, and the figure rose to 80 percent among combat troops.
“We could find the PLA has recruited more female soldiers in the past decade, a popular approach adopted by developed countries facing a shortage of new blood,” Wong said.
“Military instructors found the strict and dogmatic training modes applied in the last century didn’t work for more individual young soldiers born in the 21st century,” said Zhou Chenming, a researcher from Beijing-based think tank.
Physical fitness has been another tough challenge for the PLA since the military shifted its recruitment targets from peasants’ children to rural youth with higher education levels in 2000.
China’s one-child policy, implemented in 1979 and withdrawn in 2016, had exacerbated the practice of sex-selective abortion in favor of boys, said Jiang Quanbao, a demography professor.