The People's Liberation Army is replacing its weapons because its young soldiers are getting bigger, the PLA Daily has reported.
The average PLA soldier is now 2cm taller and his waistline 5cm wider than the average soldier two decades ago, a report by the General Armament Department's chemical decontamination institution revealed.
It did not state the average measurements of height and waistline.
The report said that because many of the army's current weapons were designed based on soldiers' sizes some 30 years ago, a soldier of normal build today would feel cramped in the tanks and find the firearms too short to use.
Using a gun that was too short for one's build would affect one's firing accuracy, the report warned.
The findings came after a survey, initiated in 2009, that gathered data from more than 20,000 in-service ground-force soldiers of different ages. The study measured and analysed the soldiers' sizes and strength, among others, the daily reported.
The institution would set up a new database with the statistics derived from the survey, and the information would be used for research and development into new weapons, the article stated.
It added that the findings of the survey had already been used in designing new weapons and equipment for the artillery forces, armoured forces, engineer corps and chemical defence corps.
The daily said the PLA soldiers' heights and sizes of waistline had increased because of marked improvement to mainlanders' living standards over the past 20 years since the nation opened its economy to the world in the late 1970s.
"The configuration of the armaments should match the military personnel's physiques, because that is the only way to ensure handy use of the equipment," the daily quoted Ding Songtao , who is in charge of the statistics, as saying.
The latest study measured 28 items of basic human body data, compared with just seven items in previous studies. The new database has also collected ergonomic parameters, such as data on hand-muscle strength, which can be used to determine the optimum sensitivity of triggers, the article said.