Beijing: China`s over 2.8 million strong Army plans to recruit 1.5 lakh graduates this year and would open an online recruitment service for the first time in an "effort to sharpen the Army`s high-tech edge".
The People`s Liberation Army (PLA) along with Ministry of Education plan to open an online recruitment service for the first time to mobilise college graduates this year, a move seen as an effort to sharpen "the Army`s high-tech edge," state run Xinhua news agency reported.
The new plans to step up recruitment for the PLA which comprises ground forces, Navy, Air Force, the police and PLA Reserve was announced after a meeting between the Army officials and the Education Ministry.
Moreover, the age limit has been extended to 24 years for those with a Bachelor`s degree changing the earlier age limit for men between 18 and 20 and women aged 18 or 19, it said.
Last year, China announced a series of "preferential policies" to encourage more young people with higher education to serve in the Army, including a one-off payment of up to CNY 24,000 (USD 3,500) for the student-turned soldiers.
The money, paid by the central government, roughly equals the tuition cost of a four-year university education in China.
Some 130,000 college graduates applied to join the Army in 2009 and more than 100,000 were recruited.
According to estimates the PLA, regarded as the biggest military strength in terms of personnel, has an active strength of 2810,000 people in its ranks.
China recently announced USD 77 billion defence budget for this year which was an increase of 7.5 percent, compared to last year with emphasis on making the military IT savvy.
"We will concentrate on making the army better to enable it to win informationised (IT driven) local wars to enhance its ability to respond to multiple security threats and accomplish diverse array of military tasks," Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said last month in his work report submitted to the National Peoples Congress (NPC).
As China rapidly expanded and modernised its defence forces, some of its top military officials are calling on the government to "abandon its modesty" and "sprint to become world number one".
"If China in the 21st century cannot become world number one, cannot become the top power, then inevitably it will become a straggler that is cast aside," PLA`s Senior Colonel, Liu Mingfu, said recently in his book ‘The China Dream’.
Analysts say Liu`s observations do not represent the Chinese government`s official thinking but constitutes strident opinions among some of the military officials who are pushing for China to take more proactive military role commensurate with its growing economic might.