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'Masturbation & Computer Games = Unfit Recruits In China'

The Chinese military has come up with some advice for would-be recruits on how to pass physical tests...

China MIlitary

The Chinese military has come up with the top reasons for youths failing the physical tests needed to join the military, and some of them are quite unusual.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has blamed overconsumption of fizzy drinks, excessive computer gaming and even masturbation for the poor health of young people in the country.

The post suggested some tips so that youngsters could get fitter, but the guidance has been met with widespread mockery by youngsters sitting at their computers and interacting on social media.

It also said that failure rates had reached an "alarming high", with at least half of the candidates failing in one city.

The military has been struggling to find recruits in recent years, despite its heavy promotion of patriotic "heroes" in the media.

The PLA's advice appeared on its official "ChinesePeoplesArmy" account on WeChat, a China-based messenger app.

It cited data from a Chinese city where 56.9% of candidates failed their physicals, and recommended that potential candidates follow these ten basics steps:

Cut out fizzy drinks and alcohol: approximately 25% of all candidates failed blood and urine tests.

Spend less time in front of screens: 46% of candidates failed eyesight tests, which the outlet blames on "reliance on mobile phones and other electronic devices".

Exercise more: 20% failed because they were overweight.

Cut down on computer games and/or masturbating: 8% failed because of abnormalities in the scrotum as a result of sitting too much, it said.

Develop better sleeping habits: 13% failed because their blood pressure was too high.

Unhealthy China

Don't get a tattoo.

Drink clean water: 7% failed because of ear, nose or throat problems, partly the result of long-term consumption of bad water.

Seek corrective treatment for genetic conditions: 3% failed because of conditions such as excessive sweating or flat feet.

Seek treatment for mental health issues: 1.6% failed because of mental health issues, particularly depression.

Have better standards of hygiene and sanitation: 3.4% failed because of regional diseases, such as Kashin-Beck disease (KBD), a chronic disease affecting the bone found in western China that has been linked to poor living conditions.

Unsurprisingly, the post quickly attracted widespread mockery, and thousands took to the popular microblog Sina Weibo to discuss it; one user said:

"Next year they'll be asking for circumcisions!"

Others identified a decline in standards among young people, with one remarking:

"Today's youths live too comfortably."

The military has staunchly defended its rigorous recruitment process, with the defence ministry saying it has "strict rules and procedures":

"The quality of our recruits is guaranteed and the headwaters of our military will flow long and strong."

Social media users, however, suspect that the post was intended to encourage enrolment because "money is not being sent to the army". 

Last month, the Ministry of Defence announced plans to downsize the PLA from an estimated two million to one million.

Poor conditions in the military have been highlighted in the media, with reports of low pay, bad food, and difficulties in finding jobs after demobilisation.

This is not the first time that the Chinese military has turned to unusual means of recruitment; last year they released a rap video encouraging youths to join up.

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