China military says faces "complex" task keeping secrets

BEIJING, April 23 Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:54am EDT

BEIJING, April 23 (Reuters) - China's military faces a "severe and complex" task in maintaining secrecy, especially given the widespread use of the internet and mobile communications, and needs to ensure security is tightened, a top military paper said on Wednesday.

Secrecy is needed to ensure that the Chinese army is capable of both waging war and winning, the People's Liberation Army Daily said, citing a document approved by President Xi Jinping and issued by the powerful Central Military Commission.

"Have a clear understanding of the severe and complex situation faced in maintaining secrecy, always remain sober-minded and spare no effort to keep secrets safe," it said.

The military has ordered a special check-up and overhaul to check loopholes in the management of documents and other items carrying classified information, as well as secret sites and activities, the newspaper said.

Modern communications technology meant measures need to be taken to ensure "infallible security of confidential military information".

The newspaper did not give specific examples or mention any recent lapses that may have caused the new order to be issued.

A separate commentary in the same newspaper said military secrecy is vital to the army's survival, development and the outcome of any battles it may fight.

"The country is faced with an increasingly complicated security environment and intensified competition in armed forces, which have fuelled rivalries in the scramble for information," the commentary said.

"There is no reason to be too optimistic about current secrecy measures", because problems still exist in certain fields in the army, it said.

Despite proclaiming that its military spending and modernisation is transparent, China keeps tight control over information regarding its armed forces, including banning foreign media from monthly defence ministry news conferences.

While the United States frequently accuses China, including its military, of hacking computers, China says it is a target of hacking attacks by the United States. The White House has said that the U.S. does not spy to gain commercial advantage.

China will beef up its internet security after recent reports that the U.S. government spied on a major telecommunications firm, the Defence Ministry said last month. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait)