By Zhang Zhihao
A documentary showcasing China's military development has kindled public love for servicemen ahead of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on Oct 18.
China Central Television began airing the eight-episode documentary Strong Military on Sept 28. As of Tuesday, six episodes focusing on the army's development as well as its anti-corruption endeavors, are available online, receiving millions of views.
The series is also being aired on a dozen local channels from northeastern Jilin to southern Guangdong provinces. It received strong praise from public and military viewers for its authoritative and systematic portrayal of the People's Liberation Army's development since 2012, according to Xinhua News Agency.
"Building a strong military is a call of duty by the people and the era," Zhang Lixiong, a 104-year-old PLA veteran, told Xinhua after viewing the documentary with family.
"What I am most proud of seeing is our new generation of soldiers marching forward with firmer steps, living up to the expectations of the Party and the people," he said.
Chu Jingyi, a 21-year-old college senior, said she longed to join the military, and after viewing the documentary, her determination became stronger than ever.
"I am proud to be Chinese, and I will regret not joining the military," she told Xinhua. "We cannot live our free lives without having a strong military protecting us and the nation."
The first episode, titled "Chasing the Dream," centered on President Xi Jinping's seminal speech on the dream of building a strong military during his visit to a military zone in Guangzhou on Dec 10, 2012.
"The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is the greatest dream of the Chinese people in modern times," Xi said. "The Chinese Dream is about building a strong nation. As for the military, it is the dream of building a strong military."
Since then, building a world class military capable of fighting and winning wars has been high on the agenda of the Chinese leadership. This led to various reforms and military construction ranging from modernizing command to combating corruption.
Major General Wang Chuanbao, a contributor to the series and a professor at the PLA National Defense University, told Xinhua that the PLA has changed like "a phoenix rising from the ashes" in the past five years.
The documentary featured rare testimony and letters of regret by Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong - two former generals and vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission who were charged with corruption.
"I came to such a state mainly because I have not followed the Party, had a wrong world view, and did not resist temptation, thus becoming a hostage to corruption," Xu wrote in one of his letters.