A really good article at GT on the PLA's recruitment difficulties, spanning the gamut from better career opportunities, growing obesity, the one child policy, the reduction of post-retirement benefits and many more. SInce it's in Chinese state media they had to bury the lede, which revolves around the fact that the relevant organs have recruit quotas to meet:
Some local government officials have also come under pressure to enhance coordination and mobilization efforts. Several regions, including Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Jiangsu and Shandong provinces, have included military recruitment in the assessment for officials' performances. Leaders or governments will be marked down if they fail to reach the quota for that year.
"Though the punishment seems light, no one wants to fall short in that task, which will impact our prospects of being promoted," Li Wangmin said. Under greater pressure to fill the quota, some local governments coerce young people into joining the army.
In some respects it's a familiar story. Incomes rise and people have more choices. And yet because of its many civilian functions the PLA used to function partly as a kind of university of the poor: the author Yan Lianke joined because his parents, illiterate Henanese peasants, were too poor to get him to college and he learned his trade as an author writing inspiring propaganda tales for recruits of a similar background until he got chucked out for writing a novel in which the authorities in a rural village try to buy Lenin's embalmed corpse from Russia to establish itself as a centre of red tourism. Not exactly Tom Paine's post-redcoat career, but kind of cool.