China Exclusive: China's armed police give "liberation shoes" the boot

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Members of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Armed Police are finding their feet more comfortable in a new type of training shoes.

Newly equipped troops have found a cure for smelly feet and soldiers should be less vulnerable to foot-related diseases.

The new breathable black shoes will be distributed to all armed police units by the end of July, according to the force's website.

"Liberation shoes," a kind of rubber footwear used by the Chinese army since the 1950s, will be gradually decommissioned from the service.

Man Xiangdong, the armed police officer in charge of shoe design, described the new shoes as "anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and odor resistant," saying they give better support to the wearers' ankles.

"It's light. I feel like stepping on spongy cushion while running," said Li Zhixiang, a member of the armed police, on the website. "Our dorm is no longer full of the smell of feet since we got the new shoes last year."

Before going into mass production this year, the armed police tested the shoes and solicited the opinions of nearly 180,000 soldiers and officers, said Zheng Jianchun, a logistics official with the armed police.

The traditional liberation shoes, in dark green or camouflage color, are still widely used by most PLA units. After several rounds of improvements, the shoes are light and easy to carry.

The shoes passed the test of revolutionary years and have been the major footwear of the Chinese army since the 1950s, but they have their limitations. They are not puncture proof, nor water resistant, and the low-waist design easily lets sand into the shoes and does not protect the ankle. In recent years, liberation shoes have been gradually replaced by combat boots in military training, but soldiers still wear them during their downtime.

Liberation shoes still dominate Chinese peacekeeping troops' footwear on overseas missions. According to peacekeepers, the practical shoes are popular in African countries and sometimes can be exchanged with foreign soldiers for much more expensive European military boots. Endi

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