Planet China

The student salute

Back in WiC251, we looked at the debate about whether China’s school children should receive military training. Last week the controversy moved to university campuses, where the same principles in military training are in force too. But what sparked debate this time was a photo showing the head of Anhui Xinhua University reviewing a parade of student cadets. Netizens were bemused that he did so standing in an open-topped, black Audi, in a posture reminiscent of a North Korean despot.

As the university’s Shi Xiuhe drove past the 6,000 assembled students (all in military fatigues) he offered a few words of encourgement, calling out: “Students thank you for your hard work” and “Strive to win glory for Xinhua University”.

Netizens were soon scoffing at Shi for having delusions of grandeur, but he defended himself, saying it was a matter of practicality. Covering the 400 metres on foot would have taken 20 minutes, he explained, “while it takes just five minutes by car”.

However, Shi must be worried by the publicity and may fear his exploits could backfire. Tellingly, the Liberation Army Daily commented that a university administrator participating in a parade car review was inappropriate, and not to be encouraged.

Beijing Times also reported that PLA parade regulations reserve such reviews for state leaders and are to be used only in major national festivals

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