Eight new military-affiliated academies will start recruiting high school graduates this fall for the first time following the launch of military academy reforms in 2016, which experts said would help China win the information war.
The eight new academies merged with other universities and academies, with six belonging to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) ground force, the Legal Mirror reported.
For example, the Army Academy of Border and Coastal Defense, the PLA's lone border and coastal defense institute, has merged the PLA Border Defense Academy in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, the Kunming National Cadres Academy in Southwest China's Yunnan Province and the Urumqi National Cadres Academy in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, according to the Legal Mirror.
The academic programs of traditional combat forces will be reduced in this year's recruitment plan, with a focus on early-warning, command and control and combat data, the report said.
The reform of military-affiliated academies is meant to reduce both the number of academies and students to be recruited, in line with the comprehensive military reform.
That reform will see a 300,000 troop reduction by the end of 2017, Li Daguang, a professor at the National Defense University of the PLA, said.
"Meanwhile, to win the future information war, academic programs such as computer science, information technology and intelligence studies will become more prominent," Li told the Global Times on Sunday.
The reform will also improve aerospace studies, Li said.
Twenty-six military-affiliated universities and academies plan to enroll 12,000 high school graduates this year, with most of them enrolling males, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The reform also merged academies on services and arms, Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military commentator, told the Global Times.
Unlike the air force and rocket force, the PLA army had no specialized academies as the army had no commanding organ.
"Establishing academies involved in services could better manage and train soldiers for theater commands," Song said.
In March 2016, President Xi Jinping called for reforms and innovation in military-affiliated colleges and academies to build a world-class army, as part of the military overhaul launched in 2015.
Under the reform, these academies were encouraged to closely follow global military developments, research the role of information technology in military operations and address the issues in the country's combat readiness, Xinhua reported.