'Scholar' set to take reins of command

Updated: 2011-11-01 07:43

By An Baijie (China Daily)

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'Scholar' set to take reins of command
Chu Kewei, a Tsinghua University graduate turned commander, takes part in military training with other soldiers in this file photo. [Photo by Dai Danhua / for China Daily]

MIANCHI, Henan - Chu Kewei's fellow soldiers weren't expecting much when they learned the next recruit was a university grad.

"When I heard that a Tsinghua graduate joined our company, I said to my colleagues that he'll just be a scholarly officer," said Lu Zhifang, a veteran of the Red First Company.

"He might be good at writing articles and making speeches, but he would definitely be weak in military exercises."

The veteran Lu, who was to share his room with the newcomer, changed his mind when Chu took off his T-shirt.

"The Tsinghua graduate is not a sissy, but a muscle man with washboard abs," Lu said.

It's been fours years since then and Chu, 26, a graduate from the first national defense class in the department of computer science and technology, is now commander of the army's Red First Company with more than 100 soldiers.

Chu admitted that he wasn't up to scratch when he began military training, which made the other soldiers question his capability.

"It took me more than 10 minutes to get myself prepared during the first emergency muster, which is too long," Chu said. "I also failed the shooting drill the first several times."

During the training, Chu was even challenged by a veteran who asked to compete with him in military exercises. A sparring champion at Tsinghua, Chu managed to fight out a draw with the veteran, who was once the regiment's fastest runner.

The triumph won some fame for Chu, which he thought was not enough. He continued strengthening his body and finally won the contest for push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups among the 31 newly nominated platoon commanders in 2008.

Chu was also dedicated to the technological reform of the military training equipment, upgrading the company's simulation military drill software in 2010.

His parents tried to persuade him to go into the higher-level military command, where it's easier to get promoted than in the company command, but he refused.

"In the grassroots company command, I can directly learn about how to fight against enemies with my fellows," Chu said. "It's essential for a military man."

In a letter to Tsinghua's national defense class, he encouraged students to gain experience by going grassroots in the army.

"During a military drill in summer 2010 when the hot sun burned us, there was only one bottle of water left for the whole company," Chu wrote.

"The soldiers asked me to drink first, but I noticed that all of them were as thirsty as me, so I passed the bottle and ordered each one to drink some. However, the bottle was still full when it was passed back around to me."

"This is how the brother-like soldiers act in our grassroots company command," Chu said.