Half the battle is won once the enemy is already intimidated by your appearance.
This quote from an unknown source is perhaps what inspired Chinese officials to order country's soldiers to lose weight and become fighting fit. The idea of getting into shape has as much to do with being a strong force in times of combat as it has with projecting - according to Chinese officials themselves - a 'first-class image.'
According to a South China Morning Post report, President Xi Jinping recently signed the “PLA Common Regulations” which has a number of compulsory directives for troops. Of these, getting into shape has been given primary importance. The directive reportedly wants soldiers to be combat ready each day and instill an even higher level of self-discipline than what exists currently. Punishment for several cases of discipline violations has also been made more severe.
While getting fit and being at the peak of physical form is a demand almost every country makes of its soldiers, the PLA Common Regulations goes beyond and elaborates on minuscule aspects of human conduct. So, umbrellas have been banned unless it is raining or snowing and must be held only in the left hand, bracelets are a no-no and non-uniform gloves would invite severe penalty. Military uniforms are now permitted when attending personal events like weddings and award ceremonies to encourage public at large to respect the forces.
Several security analysts in China have welcomed the rules and compulsory directives. Some have been quoted as saying that these would ensure a positive public image while others have made comparisons to US troops and their fitness levels projected. A few also suggest that these showcase how closely Xi is monitoring his troops and the degree of control that he wishes to exercise.