What the Chinese and US troops have in common

Regularly, Chinese military recruitment videos are distributed in the English world, generally on men’s news feeds and bulletin boards, and very online. Often inspired by international magazines focused on so-called “male interests,” these videos have been seen by thousands of viewers outside of China.

Magazines in 2016, especially to be an example Men’s Journal Advertisement for “Wild Speed: PLA Edition” of the PLA (Popular mechanics The same video ““). Notice that “tanks, jet fighters, aircraft carriers”, and “massive shootouts and explosions” are all set to dramatic soundtracks. Men’s Journal China’s advertising was characterized as “a world away from the US military’s calm approach” to recruitment.

This claim is ridiculous for Americans who remember visiting cinemas and playing football games in the early 2000s. Indeed, in recent years, the U.S. military has taken a more modest approach in an attempt to project a rigorous image of professionalism by appealing to liberal values ​​such as multiculturalism in television commercials. But it was the US Army’s recruitment command, not the PLA, that revolutionized the flashy film outreach practice for military recruitment.

In fact, as a PLA employee China Daily In 2016, China’s ad was an explicit reference to its American precedent aimed at showing that PLA was “a powerful force as modernized as the US military.” And today, five years later, Chinese military advertising tends to exemplify the same “cool” rhetoric as that of the United States. Regarding professionalism, professional training, and technical capabilities, as the Chinese military seeks to attract more college-educated recruits to support it. ..

Observers of both Chinese and Western troops tend to make hyperbolic declarations about the uniqueness of the Chinese military. However, such exaggeration masks the fact that two of the world’s largest standing armies, the US and Chinese troops, are strikingly similar in some respects.

On Friday, May 22, 2020, on the first day of the PLA (NPC) in Beijing, PLA soldiers march past the entrance to the Forbidden City.

For one thing, both US and Chinese military planners have adopted very similar techniques and routines to meet their recruitment quotas. Both countries maintain the book conscription law, but China and the United States each rely heavily on recruiting volunteers to maintain the size of their active forces. The United States abandoned conscription in 1973 during the Vietnam War, but its reinstatement leaves legal potential.And in China, there is still a regular draft period, but it is knitted with voluntary recruitment practices to the extent that state media can do it on a daily basis. Drafts are marginal or non-existent. As expected, given the importance of regular recruitment to both troops, the similarities in their outreach programs go beyond dramatic video advertising.

China’s decentralized (and partially civilized) system for attracting recruits will be familiar to Americans who have generally observed strip mall military enlistment offices for decades. Probably.In China, civilian government officials working in local People’s Army forces are scrambling to gather. Assigned by higher state authorities by both attracting voluntary recruits and enrolling young people in the draft. U.S. military recruiters also operate from relatively decentralized regional headquarters, but still pay attention to the assignments set by the recruitment commands for each service. Such a system establishes a perverse incentive for local recruitment offices.As I did U.S. local recruiters consistently impose on the edge of dignity and legality to meet their quota, even relying on apparently unmanageable tactics such as publishing ads And install On a computer at a public youth center.

This type of open predation is underpinned by the economic coercion of the United States, which makes a historic transition from conscription to conscription. At least in part, it was facilitated by decades of rollbacks of private social programs. By systematically eliminating the welfare of society as a whole, military benefits such as subsidized housing and childcare have become more attractive to future enlistments. In the absence of conscription, such benefits “acted not as a reward for civilian soldiers, but as a program to lure active duty soldiers into career units and re-enlist them,” said historian Jennifer Midelstadt. ..

In the Chinese context, the relationship between priority social interests and military enlistment is not well understood. Still, there is evidence to suggest that the soft power of economic coercion and social bribery is also essential to the maintenance of the Chinese army. For example, Chinese military families are entitled to benefits aimed at compensating households for the loss of the enlisted labor force. These amounts will vary depending on local conditions, According to the United States-based China Aerospace Research Institute. Investigations are ongoing in some rural areas, and these incentives can amount to as much as 150% of average local income each year.Needless to say, last year’s revision of China Beyond increasing enlistment and conscription each year, was also introduced For military welfare programs.

Another similarity between the United States and China is that they impose disciplinary penalties on recruits who oppose the military chain of command, especially those who seek to escape military involvement due to personal difficulties or opposition to idealism. That’s what you are doing.For example, in 2019, the US media The abuse of Zhang Moukang, a Chinese enlistment from Hainan, has resulted in a lifetime ban on national employment, heavy personal fines, and publicly available press releases as a result of refusing to complete his term. Brought the shame of.

However, the penalties imposed by the US military for rebellion are probably even more severe. For example, two U.S. military noncommissioned officers— When — Both were falsely charged with escape after expressing their principled opposition to the Iraq War. Both served several months in military prisons.And as many as 200 U.S. military personnel who went into exile in protest of the war between Afghanistan and Iraq. Cannot return to the United States for fear of being imprisoned on political charges.

Nevertheless, despite all these similarities, there is at least one important difference that distinguishes US and Chinese military recruitment policies. However, this distinction becomes apparent only when considering the country’s historical trajectory over a much longer timeline than is generally expected by military planners.


Photo provider: Reuters / TPG images

Medical personnel will arrive with medicines on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force transport aircraft at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport on February 13, 2020, after a new coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

The current priority of the United States is to increase enlistment. However, since the 1980s, PLA, as researcher Adam Ni, has tended to “downsize and rationalize.” of Diplomat.. PLA reduced 1 million soldiers in 1985. In 1997, there were 500,000 people. 200,000 in 2003. These reductions, like the Central Military Commission of China, were part of a generational strategy to transform the Chinese army from “quantitative” to “qualitative” forces. Given that China’s national priority is to strengthen its overall military strength by investing in advanced technology and more skilled recruits, they do not reflect their commitment to demilitarization. However, they appear to be in contrast to the US military’s current stance of periodically advocating higher enlistment quotas in preparation for the expected “power conflict.”

China and the United States are each competing in their own way for a global future defined by a tense and tremendous stand-off between regional superpowers. These conditions should be frightening for the inhabitants of all countries of the world. In my opinion, neither the United States nor China tends to follow a wise geopolitical order, the best chance of providing permanent (or at least lasting) security from a catastrophic war between powers. It’s on the road that seems to be.

To establish global security, the United States and China need to focus on something that is completely more important than the aesthetics of classified ads. The two superpowers (along with other countries, especially Russia) According to diplomatically negotiated benchmarks of their standing army. Under such an international program, the United States will be required to join China to reduce the number of active duty soldiers it employs. China, on the other hand, needs to continue to shrink its army, not to streamline its activities, but to reduce the overall capacity of the war-torn country.

Of course, international programs like the kind I’m talking about aren’t currently in the table. It has not been discussed in the halls of multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, and has not been taken seriously in the foreign policy hawk circuit that surrounds both Washington and Beijing. But it should, and probably someday. In the meantime, at least, it’s better to admit that China and the United States have more in common than political leaders admit.

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Editor: Nicholas Hagati (@thenewslensintl).

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