Atrocious, life-long penalties for quitting the Chinese military

Chinese military giving a guard of honor to Turkish President in Beijing, China. (Photo courtesy: Anadolu Agency)

(, Dec16’19) – Military service in China is compulsory although this is usually not enforced due to abundance of volunteers. However, for those who join it, especially as a graduate which a modernizing People’s Liberation Army (PLA) especially targets, quitting it prematurely is a serious crime and the penalties are not only heavy but a life-long condemnation. A story posted on the PLA’s English language website last week detailed the punishment meted out to Zhang Moukang, a university student from the country’s southern Hainan province, after he applied to quit after a month’s stint.

Zhang faced a total of eight penalties that included a two-year ban on foreign travel; traveling within China on planes, long-distance trains or buses; buying real estate; getting loans or insurance; opening a business; and enrolling or studying in college or secondary school.

The report continued that Zhang, whose age was not mentioned, will not be permitted to get a government job for life, even as a temporary worker. That included any government enterprises in a country where a large chunk of industry is state-run.

In addition, he was fined $4,000 plus the reimbursement to the military of $3,750 for costs incurred during his short time as a soldier, including “a political examination,” his medical examination, travel and living expenses, as well as bedding and clothing.

Zhang also faced public shaming, for his actions and punishments will be “published to the society via networks, television, newspapers and social media.”

A search of Chinese media showed that at least a few dozen cases of former soldiers had been named and shamed over the past few years, and the punishments are prescribed in Chinese law, reported Dec 15.

Under its modernization drive, China requires fewer, but better educated, recruits. So the force has been downsizing, stressing technically proficient volunteers over conscripts who tend to come from poorer areas with less education.

After joining the military in September, Zhang applied to quit it a month later and in late November he was booted out of the PLA.

“Zhang Moukang has been unable to adapt himself to the military life for fearing hardships and fatigues,” the PLA Daily report said. “Despite the troops’ patient exhortation, he still persisted in dropping out.”


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