China has the world's largest army, but it also has the world's biggest population, and young people from across the 31 municipalities have hopes of joining.This, combined with the rigorous physical fitness tests which have a high failure rate, has led some families to pay large sums of money to secure the sought-after spots.
The army offers a secure career path for young Chinese, many of whom are struggling in the job market according to Zeng Zhiping, a national defense law scholar and vice president of the Nanchang Institute of Technology in Jiangxi. It is also viewed as a way out of the country's rural areas.
The recruitment office in the Chinese province of Jiangxi started receiving calls asking how much it would cost to pass this year's tests to join the army a number of months ago. The amount varies according to your connections, but $16,000 is standard.
“They asked me what the current price tag is, and I said ‘around 80,000 to 90,000 yuan for you guys',” a recruitment officer with the People’s Liberation Army in Jiangxi told Bloomberg. “If your guanxi was really strong it’d cost you around 50,000 to 60,000 yuan per quota; if it was just so-so, you would have to spend 100,000 yuan at least.”
The acceptance of payments comes as President Xi Jinping, who was elected last year, tries to stamp out corruption and push the army forward as a strong force.