BEIJING, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese army is changing who it recruits.
According to the Ministry of National Defence (MND) on Monday, graduates from colleges, middle and vocational schools will be targeted in an effort to modernize the army.
Previously, China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) primarily recruited the unemployed or rural youths.
To be able to enlist people with higher educations the MND is lowering its vision requirements for college graduates saying that demographic typically has poor eyesight as a result of constant reading.
"It will give more high-quality young people the opportunity to join the army," said an official from the office.
Age requirements will also change. New recruits are usually young men between 18-20 years old and 18-19 year old women. Men with higher educations can now enroll if they are 22 years old or younger and 17 year old women can also now volunteer.
The PLA starts winter recruitment on Nov. 1 of this year. 2008-2009 graduates will be eligible for enrollment.
More than 5 million students will graduate college this year, the MND said. Nearly 10 million males will graduate from middle schools and vocational schools and will not seek further education.
"This means there is an enormous group of high-quality youths available for recruitment," the official said.
Young people who excelled in reconstruction after the devastating May 12 earthquake would also be given priority to join the army, said the ministry.
The PLA recruits nationwide once a year. New recruits usually retire after complete two years of service.
China currently has 2.3 million service members.