Western experts have kept a tab on China’s military by analyzing photos of new People’s Liberation Army equipment posted online by some enthusiasts. As China rapidly modernises its forces, it is very common for users on social media sites like Weibo to post photos of military ships or aircraft captured from outside PLA installations or from commercial flights near sensitive areas. But these “military fans” cannot do this anymore, a report claimed.
In a WeChat post titled, “This is a cool hobby, but you must be very careful,” the China ministry of state security said, “Some individual military enthusiasts severely endanger national military security by illegally obtaining information regarding national defense and disseminating them on the internet.”
“With a focus on military airports, ports, national defense and military industrial units, they drove to or took ferries or planes that pass by designated routes, and clandestinely photographed with telephoto lenses or drones,” it said as per a report in CNN.
Repeat violators could be imprisoned for up to seven years but “first-time or occasional offenders” may only receive a warning, it added.
According to the spy agency’s post, images which were posted online show the progress of construction on warships or aircraft. They also disclose operational and technical details of Chinese military hardware- one area where security could be compromised.
What other information can be seen in social media posts about China’s military
China’s newest aircraft carrier- Fujian- has been a frequently shared by amateur spotters as it is fitted out at a Shanghai shipyard where the work is being done close to flight paths of Pudong Shanghai International Airport.
In November, it was reported that the Fujian had begun testing its advanced electromagnetic catapult system.