Last night at 7 pm, at their home in Hebei province the parents of the 1.78 meter tall Zhao Miao (赵淼), the former Hebei Normal University music student who entered the army in 2009, proudly watched their daughter on CCTV as part of the honor guard (仪仗队) welcoming the visiting president of Turkmenistan on his state visit to China. What makes this sight even more remarkable is that this is the first time ever that female soldiers – with Zhao Miao making a total of 13 – have formed part of the national guard. Even though Zhao Miao’s mother had not seen her daughter for months, she immediately recognized her on the television, and promptly shed tears of joy.
Of the 13 female members of the honor guard, all are taller than 1.73 meters, and 80% have university degrees. Starting in February, they underwent three months of intensive training to serve in the honor guard.