Hong Kong CNN  — 

With around 2 million people in China’s armed forces, you might think the story of one person who couldn’t take the rigors of military life wouldn’t warrant national attention.

But that wasn’t the case last week for Zhang Moukang, a university student from the country’s southern Hainan province.

New recruits of Chinese People's Armed Police Force, which is controlled by the People's Liberation Army, received training in Shenzhen.

A story posted on the People Liberation Army’s English language website details the punishment meted out to Zhang after he told the PLA he no longer wanted to serve.

How bad will it be for Zhang?

He faces a total of eight penalties that include a two-year ban on foreign travel; traveling within China on planes, long-distance trains or buses; buying real estate; getting loans or insurance; opening a business; and enrolling or studying in college or secondary school.

Zhang, for whom no age was given, will not be permitted to get a government job for life, even as a temporary worker. And that includes any government enterprises in a country where a large chunk of industry is state-run.

There will also be a financial cost: a $4,000 fine plus the reimbursement to the military of $3,750 for costs incurred during his short time as a soldier, including “a political examination,” his medical examination, travel and living expenses, as well as bedding and clothing.

Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army march during a parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, at Tiananmen Square on October 1, 2019.

Zhang will also face public shaming: his actions and punishments will be “published to the society via networks, television, newspapers and social media.”

Certainly, a story on the PLA’s internationally watched English website ticks that box.

“Making an example of him”

Zhang’s case may be rare, but it is not unique.

A CNN search of Chinese media found at least a few dozen cases of former soldiers being named and shamed over the past few years, and the punishments are prescribed in Chinese law.

Beijing may be using the case to “make an example out of him and publicize it in a way that that reaches a broader society,” said Adam Ni, co-editor of China Neican and China researcher at the Department of Security Studies and Criminology at Macquarie University in Australia.

Ni added that “this is an example of some of the tensions that the PLA faces. On the one side it needs to project a image, a good image, and on the other side it has needs to deter what it consider