China / Military

Soldiers' live use of smartphones reviewed

By ZHAO LEI (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-27 06:51

As hundreds of millions of Chinese become increasingly dependent on their smartphones for daily affairs, the People's Liberation Army has been exploring ways to govern its members' use of the omnipresent gadget.

According to reports in PLA Daily, the military's flagship newspaper, many PLA units have organized discussions and debates on whether and how officers and soldiers should use smartphones.

The issue became a hot topic on Friday after the newspaper published a report that several officers and soldiers of the PLA's 14th Group Army used smartphones for live-streams of their physical exercises and to play smartphone-based games.

This has led to concern among the unit's commanders about whether such activity could compromise military secrets, according to the report.

The unit later decided that its members will only be allowed to make or watch live broadcasts via smartphones when they are on vacation, and they cannot engage in such activities while in uniform. Furthermore, the content of such live-streaming must not relate to military secrets, the report said.

The PLA released guidelines in July last year to improve the management methods and codes of conduct for officers and soldiers.

One of the new rules allows service members to use mobile phones in their spare time, on weekends and during holidays, on the condition of confidentiality.

A personnel management expert of the PLA told China Daily on condition of anonymity that in the early years of the prevalence of mobile phones in China, service members were banned from using them, but the prohibition was gradually relaxed.

"Currently, there are no bans on the use of popular smartphone-based social networking applications such as WeChat. But I don't think it is appropriate for a service member to make a live broadcast via WeChat or other mobile phone-based live broadcast apps, because it is very easy for them to leak secrets," the PLA expert said.

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