"In future, officers at army and division-levels in the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) should hold academic titles of doctorate and master's, respectively," said Qian Xuesen, a well-known Chinese rocket expert who made the statement 13 years ago.
Nowadays, Qian's remark is coming true. To date, the PLA has 26,000 members with either a master's degree or doctorate, according to the latest statistics of the PLA General Political Department.
Seventy years ago, the Communist Party of China (CPC) set up the Red Army, the predecessor of the PLA, for its armed struggle against the Kuomintang regime and warlords.
In the early 1950s, the first years of the People's Republic of China, most PLA officers were relieved of illiteracy or remained illiterate.
By the end of the 1980s, college and university graduates made up 42.3 percent of PLA officers. Currently, however, 71.8 percent of army officers have studied in higher learning institutions.
Since 1980, the Chinese army abandoned its old practice of promoting officers directly from soldiers, and instead, only those who have been trained in military academies can be candidates for officers.
Since then, a major reform had been made regarding the fostering of army officers due to the issuance of a resolution jointly made by the State Council and the Central Military Commission, which says that the army will rely on civilian higher learning institutions to foster officers.
Since 1992, the army has recruited 46,000 university graduates from non-military academies.
At present, 80 percent of army officers have been trained in universities or colleges. Meanwhile, China has sent military students to study in 22 foreign countries.
(People's Daily 12/11/2000)