Why China established 'Online Blue Army'

15:33, June 28, 2011      

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The People's Liberation Army has established an "Online Blue Army" in order to ensure the security of China's military networks, confirmed Geng Yansheng, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense, at a recent routine press conference. This has attracted particular attention and China's "Online Blue Army" has become a hot topic discussed by those from military fans to military experts.

What does the "Online Blue Army" refer to?

Internationally, online military units have long been established. The United States destroyed Iraq's air defense system using PC viruses during the Gulf War in 1991. Thereafter, the online army of the United States also played major roles in the wars in Kosovo and Iraq. In addition to the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, Japan and India have established their online military units.

Western countries habitually call attack forces the red side, which has an ideological meaning. China's "Online Blue Army" named by the MND has no special meaning. Teng Jianqun, a research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, said that the issue related to the "color" of China's online military unit should not be exaggerated. The opposing sides in military drills often call each other "red side" and "blue side." "Red side" and "blue side" serve only as identities to distinguish both sides instead of representing any special meaning. Currently, the international community has not had a uniform rule for the meaning of the two colors.

Major General Luo Yuan, deputy secretary general at the PLA Academy of Military Sciences, said that China's "Online Blue Army" is merely a name used for military training that serves as precautionary measures to cope with online attacks.

Li Li, a military expert at the National Defense University, said that compared with online military units of Western countries, China's "Online Blue Army" is currently at its fledging period, and is more like an online maneuver mode than an organic, large-scale online army.

Online Blue Army aimed at protecting Internet security

The "Online Blue Army" is not hackers. Various computer viruses, such as the "blackmailer," "panda burning joss-sticks" and "dummycom" are threatening China's Internet security.

Zhang Shaozhong, a military expert and a professor from the PLA National Defense University, pointed out that China's dependence on the Internet is now increasing. However, there are no root servers in China. In addition, various types of Internet hardware in China are made in the United States, including many types of software. In this sense, China is only a computer "user," and China's Internet security is very fragile. Therefore, it is very necessary for China to establish Internet security forces under such circumstances. However, some Western media suspected that the China's Online Blue Army is actually "hackers" after China's military confirmed the existence of this "Online Blue Army."

"The China's Online Blue Army is essentially different from hackers. First, in regard to the legitimacy, related national authorities established the "Online Blue Army." It is legal and legitimate, while most hackers carried out actions in a private capacity, which is illegal and improper. Second, in regard to the intent, the Online Blue Army bears the glorious mission of protecting national Internet security, while hackers are aimed at wantonly attacking other computers with computer viruses," Teng said. He also said that there is no common ground between the China's Online Blue Army and hackers.

Many military fans leave messages on the forum to express their support on establishing China's own Online Blue Army.

"Instead of soldiers in the battlefield, the modern war focuses more on technology and the Internet. Strengthening the national defense Internet construction is another new requirement of the national security. Therefore, the government should attach great importance to the Internet national defense," a fan said on the www.hngov.cn.

"Although we do not want wars, we need to be always ready, "another military fan said.

Historical necessity in an information era

As the old Chinese proverb goes, "You will never lose a battle if you know your own situation as well as that of your enemy." Given the rapid development of information technology in today's world, China needs a strong "online blue army" to effectively protect its Internet security.

Li believes that it is necessary and significant for China to build an "online blue army." However, compared to Western countries' Internet squads, China's "online blue army" still faces many problems. For example, the Chinese concept of cyber warfare as well as the functions, missions and command systems of its Internet squads need to be improved as soon as possible. Cyber warfare facilities and relevant legislation should also be further improved.

"Just like the army and air forces, the 'online blue army' is a historical necessity. The reason is very simple. We must adapt to the new types of warfare in the information era. The 'online blue army' is of great strategic significance to China's economic development and social stability," Teng said, firmly believing in the important role that the "online blue army" will play in protecting the national security.

By Guo Lei, Gu Caiyu and Wu Lan from People's Daily Overseas Edition and the article is translated by People's Daily Online.

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