China has established its first all-female special forces. The unit has been shrouded in mystery until recently when media published photos of the female soldiers in training. The female soldiers follow the same training program as male counterparts, with no special allowances for being women.

The unit has 45 members who are all female except for the male commander. These young women are aged from 18 to 26 and come from all backgrounds. They are all college graduates. During daily training, they have to run 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) then 5 kilometers (3.10 miles), and do 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squat-to-stand, and 100 barbell raises.

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They must excel in 12 categories in basic testing. In addition to being able to handle different weapons, they also have to be skilled in explosives, diving, climbing, gliding, fistfights, navigation, and parachuting from above 800 meters (2624 feet) high.

Zhou Qing, who had majored in modeling, said that she took her favorite clothes with her to training. After three months she finally had a chance to wear casual clothes and she started crying because she had built up strong muscles and could not fit into her clothes comfortably.

They are all very competitive. Nineteen-year old Gao Yia-Mei said she exercises extra rounds to make sure she's keeping up. Commander Yang Hong-Kai said, "We cannot lower the standards. We must strictly follow the tough special-forces program. At war, there are no women, only soldiers."