February 4, 2015 / 9:19 AM / in 3 years

China to toughen military checks to fight internet spying

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s military will toughen ideological background checks on its troops and strictly control their internet and mobile phone use in an effort to combat spying by “hostile forces”, state media said on Wednesday.

China and the United States frequently trade accusations of hacking and internet spying, increasing tension between the two countries, and Communist Party rulers in Beijing have tightened controls on ideology and speech, saying hostile forces from the West pose a threat to Chinese culture.

The guideline issued by China’s powerful Central Military Commission and carried by the official People’s Liberation Army Daily said military personnel were forbidden from blogging and using online chat programmes.

“Some Western countries have intensified plotting against our country with ‘colour revolutions’, an online ‘cultural Cold War’ ... trying in vain to uproot the spirit of our military officers and soldiers,” a commentary in the PLA Daily said.

China’s education minister said last week the country must remove “Western values” from its classrooms. In late December, President Xi Jinping called for greater ideological guidance in universities and urged the study of Marxism.

Political and ideological education must be implemented to improve the military, the guideline added. The armed forces must also toughen measures to prevent the leaking of secrets, it added.

Toughening political examinations of military personnel would prevent “sabotage by hostile forces and corrosion by degenerate ideas and culture,” the guideline added.

The leadership has intensified a crackdown on corruption in the military over the past year, a problem that serving and retired senior officers have said could cripple the country’s ability to wage war.

China has investigated several military officials as part of an investigation into former top military officer Xu Caihou, the retired vice chairman of the Central Military Commission.

The Defence Ministry said last week that anti-corruption inspectors would target the People’s Armed Police as well as China’s nuclear forces, the navy and the air force.

(This story fixes date in dateline)

Reporting by Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Nick Macfie

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