The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has sent officers to study in over 20 countries since 1996, according to NPC delegates from the military.
During an interview with Xinhua at the on-going annual session of the National People's Congress, Xu Genchu, vice-president of the Academy of Military Sciences, said that the students mainly learn what is needed and applicable in China.
"Sending officers to study abroad is a policy decision by the Central Military Commission in response to the requirements of building an modern army. It cannot only enhance mutual understanding between the PLA and foreign armed forces but also expand the influence of the PLA," said Xu.
China resumed sending military officers to study abroad in 1996 after 30 years' interruption. The first group of 12 officers was sent to Russia. From then on, the military has sent students to more than 20 countries.
"The officers have learned new military theories and new weapons and equipment, broadened their horizons and improved their comprehensive quality. They have hence played an important role in the armed forces," he added.
Jia Maorong, commander of the Naval Air Force of the East China Sea Fleet, said officers sent overseas are mainly selected from among divisional and regimental commanders, teaching staff of commander's schools, researchers, and technical personnel.
Back from their study, they usually take up key positions at all levels in the military, military schools and research institutions of the PLA, he said.
Overseas study has become an important part of building up a personnel pool for the military, he said.
(Xinhua News Agency March 11, 2002)