‘Excessive Masturbation’ is Chinese Army’s Latest Headache
People's Liberation Army soldiers take part in a military demonstration at a naval base, celebrating the 19th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to Chinese sovereignty from British rule, in Hong Kong on July 1, 2016. (REUTERS/Representative image)
Shanghai: The Chinese military is fretting about the growing number of would-be recruits failing its stringent fitness test, but says it has the answer: avoid masturbation and computer games.
People's Liberation Army chiefs aim to ensure that applicants are in tip-top condition to join the rank and file of the world's largest military force.
This month the official PLA Daily spelt out on social media 10 reasons why so many potential recruits fall at the first hurdle.
It said 20 percent were overweight while eight percent were refused because they had an enlarged testicular vein.
The newspaper did not spell out how army officers knew about the vein issue but said the problems were caused by too much masturbation, too many video games and not enough exercise.
Obvious or oversized tattoos were also a no-no, it said, pointing out that others failed the test because of liver problems associated with too much alcohol.
The PLA Daily said that in one city alone more than half the candidates were rejected after failing to show they were fit and healthy enough.
Beijing said the PLA had high standards.
"China's recruitment process has strict rules and procedures," the defence ministry said in a statement.
"The quality of our recruits is guaranteed and the headwaters of our military will flow long and strong." That did not stop some Chinese internet users from having a bit of fun with the news.
"Going online everyday on the computer or phone, late-night gaming and masturbating, it would be weird if they were actually healthy and fit!" said one user on Weibo, China's version of Twitter.
Another saw a more serious side: "Young people nowadays are living too comfortably, they're turning into couch potatoes."
It is not the first time this month that military officials have railed against modern lifestyles.
The same army newspaper said officers were worried about young soldiers getting so addicted to the online battle game "King of Glory" that they would struggle to remain focused during an actual war.
"Once a soldier is cut off from the game for an urgent mission, he could be absent-minded during the operation if his mind remains on the game," the PLA Daily warned gravely.
Since coming to power in 2012 President Xi Jinping has trumpeted the need to build a stronger combat-ready military, while leading efforts to centralise the Communist Party's control over it.
China's military budget had seen double-digit increases for several years until last year, when it was raised 7.6 percent.