Can Foreigners Join Chinese Army

The Chinese army is one of the largest and most powerful in the world, but many people wonder if foreign nationals are able to join it. In short, the answer is both yes and no. This article will examine what it takes for citizens from outside of China to become part of this impressive force, explore the perspectives of experts, and offer insight and analysis based on the topic.

What Are the Requirements?

Officially, the Chinese Defense Ministry only accepts applications from Chinese citizens for recruitment into its various branches, so for individuals looking to join from overseas, the path is slightly more complicated. There has been the occasional case of foreign nationals enlisting into the army but only with a Chinese background and a reasonable knowledge of the Chinese language.
In addition to being born a Chinese citizen, applicants will have to undergo certain medical and psychological tests with approval from a higher command department in order to be accepted. Those who make it to the end of the process are typically those who come from a supportive family and demonstrate good leadership qualities and a strong desire to serve the nation.

Experts’ Perspectives

Qualified experts such as Dr. Christian Sulorer, professor of Political Science at University of Vienna, Austria, believe that it is possible for foreign nationals to join the Chinese army, so long as they adhere to the qualification standards set by the government. According to him, “The Chinese government can be very strict about who they allow to join but it is not impossible for those from other countries to enlist.”
However, some experts such as Dr. Fairburn, a consultant for China-US Relations, indicate that the majority of enlistees are hand-chosen by the central government itself. He states, “The Chinese government is very selective and although some foreign nationals from certain countries may be able to join, they have to meet certain requirements and have specific qualifications to be accepted.” Therefore, it is wise to think carefully before applying to be a part of the Chinese army.

Analysis and Insights

It is clear from the information gathered that foreign nationals can only join the Chinese army in very specific circumstances. As a result, it would be unwise to assume that one can join the army without any nationality qualifications or language barriers.
One should not forget that China is a very powerful nation, and with such power comes stringent requirements for enlistment. Nonetheless, if a foreign national is able to obtain the same qualifications as its Chinese counterparts, then the possibility of joining the Chinese army remains open. Hence, it is wise to research the rules and regulations of the Chinese military to determine what is required to be a part of this elite group.

Criteria for Selection

In terms of selection criteria, people from outside of China must first meet the general enlistment requirements of the Chinese government, which include but are not limited to: being physically and mentally fit for active duty, being between 18 and 22 years of age, being a Chinese citizen, and having at least an elementary knowledge of Mandarin Chinese.
Those who fulfill the necessary qualifications must then apply and pass an test/examination conducted by the Main Recruiting Office of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Assuming they get through an interview and accept the military’s terms, foreign nationals can become part of the Chinese armed forces.

Conditions of Service

When it comes to the service conditions, it is important to note that foreign nationals are still subject to the same rules and regulations as Chinese citizens. This includes following orders, obeying military laws and regulations, and taking part in all military operations as required.
In addition, those who join the Chinese army must also agree to be loyal to the Chinese national mission and defend the country to the best of their abilities. This means serving the nation honorably, with bravery and respect, regardless of personal beliefs or preferences.

Career Advancement Opportunities

For those that are successful in joining the Chinese army, there is potential for career advancement. Chinese citizens and foreign nationals who serve their country loyally can be given the opportunity to advance in rank and responsibility, leading up to much higher positions than would be normally available to one outside of the military.
This may include a promotion to a higher rank such as commander of a special operations unit, or taking on a special operation assignment within the government that involves protecting China’s interests abroad.

Consequences of Not Following Orders

On the other hand, it is important to note that those who join the Chinese army from abroad and fail to obey orders, display unbecoming behavior, or act against their country can face serious consequences, such as dishonorable discharge, prison time, or even execution, depending on the severity of the offense.

Level of Commitment Required

Given the potential risks as well as the lengthy process involved, it should be made clear that a great deal of commitment and dedication is required in order to become part of the Chinese military forces. Not only must one comply with all enlistment regulations and service conditions, they must also be willing to dedicate their lives to serving their nation, even if that means sacrificing their own personal freedom and safety.


As we can see, the path to joining the Chinese army is not easy but not impossible either. For this reason, it is important for individuals considering joining to conduct thorough research and gain an understanding of the requirements and consequences beforehand. Such an in-depth examination of the topic could provide the necessary information one needs in order to make an informed decision whether becoming part of the Chinese army is a suitable option.

Letha Wimmer is a military expert with more than a decade of direct experience in the U.S. Army and National Guard. She specializes in researching and writing about the world's armies and their capabilities, equipment, capabilities, strategies, organizations, and operations. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation from Middle Tennessee State University as well as an Aerial Firefighting Certificate and numerous other advanced aviation certifications. She also enjoys traveling to distant lands to gain firsthand knowledge about their military forces and has written extensively for various websites on the subject.

Leave a Comment