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Central Military Commission (CMC) Vice Chairman Xu Qiliang has admitted the Internet is “a new battlefield” for ideological struggle.
“(The military) should take initiative in seizing the new battlefield for ideological struggle — that is, the Internet,” said Xu during a meeting on Monday.
Xu told the Chinese military to “better guide opinions online”.
A recent report in TIME magazine claims high-definition pictures of China’s secret military installations have turned up online.
The report quotes Peter Singer, director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution and his co-researcher, Jeffrey Lin, who recently wrote an analysis of China’s latest covert project, its first homemade aircraft carrier, based on nothing but photos pulled from blogs.
Meanwhile, Xu on Monday called for enhanced efforts for China to lead online public opinion.
Xu was echoing the Chinese President Xi Jinping in an August 19 speech, in which he urged the ruling Communist Party to “build a strong army” to take on the “negative propaganda” and “internet rumours”.
The CMC Vice Chairman said China would need to “build a strong line of defense against infiltration and sabotage from hostile forces”.
In a recent op-ed for CNN, security analyst Bruce Schneier says the “United States is conducting offensive cyberwar actions around the world”.
“This is much worse than what we’re accusing China of doing to us. We’re pursuing policies that are both expensive and destabilizing and aren’t making the Internet any safer,” he writes.
The US military spends millions of dollars in online games that act as a PR drive for the US Army.
America’s Army, a free online simulator, was published by the US military in 2002 to aid recruitment. The British army launched their online game Start Thinking Soldier in 2009.
Meanwhile, Beijing has recently initiated a campaign against “online rumour mongering” and one of the most high profile cases has been that of Chinese-American investor Charles Xue Biqun, a popular Weibo (Chinese twitter) commentator who was detained last month on suspicion of soliciting prostitutes.
“I overlooked the social responsibility of being a Big V(verified user), and brought about an undesirable outcome [for society],” Xue said, referring to his “irresponsible” republishing of unsubstantiated Weibo posts.
“The internet is a virtual reality, but it needs order; a mature cyberspace needs law to keep it in check,” Xue said.
Some social media users passed on and commented on sensational microblog feeds created by unknown people without checking the veracity of the claims, resulting in the spread of rumors among Internet users, a recent Xinhua editorial said.
However, many social media activists in China have protested against what they say is a “crackdown” on civil liberties.
The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies