Soldiers warned over loose talk near military bases

Source:Global Times Editor:Zhang Tao 2017-02-14

China's military authorities have warned soldiers and officers not to leak military secrets as they go about their daily life, especially when ordering food, sending packages and using social media applications.

An article titled "Be vigilant for 'eyes' around military camps" published in Zhongguo Guofangbao (China's National Defense Newspaper) on Monday said that some soldiers are in close contact with vendors and businesses near bases, and inadvertently reveal details of their military schedules.

The newspaper said that officers from a troop in Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province began to pay high attention to security after hearing gossip from nearby residents.

It said that when an officer walked around the camp, he heard that a store owner had told others that the army will soon hold a drill and he will stock up on groceries in case the soldiers need them.

After talking with his subordinates, the officer found that some soldiers are "old friends" of the shopkeepers, and they would ask them for help when they needed to buy something. During their exchanges, details of their military lives spilled out.

In recent years, media reports about officers who accidentally leaked military secrets, especially through using online service, have made a splash across Chinese social media.

According to a report in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Daily in December 2015, China is developing the first intranet shopping platform to offer soldiers a better online shopping experience without risking leaks of sensitive military-related information.

The PLA Daily also called on troops to be wary of free Wi-Fi services as people might intercept and tamper with information on phones connected to unsecured wireless networks, in a report published in October 2014.

In 2015, the country passed its first counter-espionage law. The law states that national security agencies are entitled to seize devices, funds, venues, supplies and any other property related to espionage activities. This stipulation was added after lawmakers suggested that electronic devices like smartphones could also be used in espionage, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

According to the law, anyone that deliberately or accidentally leaks national secrets can be detained for up to 15 days, and in severe cases, may even be charged with a criminal offense.