China's PLA fights off recruits paying bribes

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BEIJING, Nov 12 (Reuters) China's People's Liberation Army is taking on a new role, defending its ranks from infiltration by recruits paying bribes.

PLA recruitment is conducted every winter and a ''small number of ineligible youngsters'' sign up through such illegal means as bribing officers involved in recruitment, the Xinhua news agency said today.

''The PLA issued a paper warning recruitment personnel of severe penalties if caught accepting money to let ineligible people in,'' it said.

''New recruits will undergo secondary health checks and other inspections to weed out those who are ineligible, who will be sent back to their hometowns, and those who have accepted the ineligible will be investigated and punished.'' The PLA's General Staff Department, General Political Department and the Commission for Discipline Inspection had ordered recruitment officials to sign an eight-clause pledge to prevent corruption.

Jobs of any sort are highly priced in China. Labour Minister Tian Chengping said earlier this year there would be 24 million new urban job-seekers on the market in 2007, but the government would only be able to find jobs for half of them.

The PLA was born out of the Red Army, a 5-million strong peasant army. The PLA became the national armed force in 1949, as communist leader Mao Zedong swept to power, and now numbers 2,255,000 land, air and navy troops.

REUTERS RJ KP0916

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