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Photos: Freshmen Wrap Up Military Training

September 16, 2013
By Eric Fish

Every year, Chinese students entering college begin their new life with two-to-three weeks of compulsory military training, or Junxun (军训) as it's called in Chinese. The training has been carried out since 1985 and, according to the Ministry of Education, is designed to "to enhance students' sense of national defense and national security awareness," as well as improve students’ “patriotism, collectivism, and revolutionary heroism.”

These photos were taken at the “goodbye ceremony” for Tsinghua University’s Junxun on Sept 13. 

Military commanders inspect the nearly 4,000 freshmen in attendence.


Drill sergeants, who are actual People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers, lead their company of students in a march around the stadium.


Students march past spectators.


Students stand at attention, awaiting orders.


Select groups of students put on demonstrations under artificial smoke simulating battle.


Crawling formation.


Students show off fight routines. Though some combat education is taught during Junxun, it tends to focus more on reptitive drills and patriotism-building activities.


Some students demonstrate procedures for chemical warfare.


Students arrange themselves in the initials of Tsinghua University. Nearly every university across the country stages similar activities this time of year. Junxun, in some form, has now also extended to the high school and middle school level. Schools in some distant regions like Xinjiang have been known to extend the training to as long as a month, and in August of 1989, students at Peking University were even told they'd be required to do a full year of Junxun.


Students listen to speeches by military commanders and Tsinghua administration.


Junxun is the first time most students will meet their new classmates, which many say is good for building comaraderie. Others say it's good for whipping spoiled only-children into shape and embeding them with the discipline needed to study well and live with others. However, some critics say the training is meant to brainwash and instill obedience to the school and the state.


A military commander gives a speech and breaks into song.


Students delighted to see a high military official sing.

Students salute just before their instructors leave. One stated aim of the training is to build respect for the People's Liberation Army. Some students even reported that their classmates were inspired by the training to join the PLA. 


Officers run to the busses waiting to return them to their respective bases. 

One girl cries as she watches her drill instructors march off. This is a common occurence at the end of Junxun. Though students frequently complain about over-bearing sergeants early in the training, officers tend to present a softer image toward the end and become close with their young cadets. Chinese media has even reported that cadets will often develop crushes on their instructor. 


A collage that one group made for their drill instructor. 


Students whip out their smart phones to photograph the festivities. While they may complain about the high temperatures, repetitive drills and strict orders, Junxun tends to be something Chinese look back on nostalically as a rigorous rite of passage.



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