The Telegraph
Wednesday , February 26 , 2014
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Stop smashing bricks on heads, PLA told

Beijing, Feb. 25: Soldiers in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have been told to stop smashing bricks on their heads and instead focus on training for real warfare.

A report in China’s largest military newspaper also said that arcane military arts of breaking wooden poles on a man’s back, hurling needles at panes of glass and pushing cars with the throat should be phased out as part of a soldier’s training.

The skills are honed through years of practice by members of a specialist segment of the PLA. Particularly impressive is the sight of a soldier standing, unflinching, as three layers of concrete are piled on top of him and pulverised with a lumphammer.

The feats may have won honours in the past, Zhang Aijun, the brigade’s head, was quoted as saying. “But fighting a battle is not a performance. The training of soldiers must be tilted more closely to the reality of war and the soldiers’ time must be used strengthening skills needed more urgently on the battlefield.”

Xi in Beijing surprise

Chinese President Xi Jinping surprised Beijing residents by visiting traditional courtyard homes and chatting near a shopping street on Tuesday, drawing praise from social media for mixing in public during a bad bout of smog.

Unscripted interactions between politicians and the public are uncommon in a country where even leaders’ birthdays and family backgrounds are often closely held secrets.

A shaky video of Xi’s visit posted online showed people applauding him as he approached. He stopped to ask residents how long they have lived in the neighbourhood before ambling away.

Photographs posted online by media showed Xi mobbed by people holding cameras and cellphones as he stood grinning in an alley in Beijing’s historic old quarter.

The area, frequented by young Chinese and tourists alike, is lined with stands selling street snacks like octopus balls and red bean cakes, as well as clothing and souvenir stores.

Xi was accompanied by Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun, apparently in a bid to dispel speculation in overseas Chinese media that Wang has been implicated in a corruption investigation into retired former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang.

Xi’s few forays into public settings have attracted praise.