China's military authorities have warned soldiers and officers not to leak military secrets as they go about their daily life, especially when ordering food, sending packages and using social media applications.
An article titled "Be vigilant for 'eyes' around military camps" published in Zhongguo Guofangbao (China's National Defense) on Monday said that some soldiers are in close contact with vendors and businesses near their bases, and inadvertently reveal details of their military schedules.
The newspaper said that officers from a troop in Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province, began to pay close attention to security after hearing gossip from nearby residents.
It said that when an officer walked around the camp, he heard that a store owner had told others that the army would soon hold a drill and he would stock up on groceries in case the soldiers needed them. After talking with his subordinates, the officer found that some soldiers are "old friends" of the shopkeepers, and they would ask them for help when they needed to buy something. During their exchanges, details of their military lives spilled out.
In recent years, reports about officers who accidentally leaked military secrets, especially through using online services, have made a splash across Chinese social media.
In December 2016, a military instructor in a navy troop in Fujian military command found an officer had inadvertently leaked the location and landmarks in his base as he posted his running route on his WeChat moments, thepaper.cn reported.
The incident caught the attention of the authorities and their investigation into officers' social networking applications showed that 43 percent of officers posted similar routes on WeChat.
According to a report in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Daily in December 2015, China is developing the first intranet shopping platform to offer soldiers a better online shopping experience without risking leaks of sensitive military-related information.
Since the instant messaging application WeChat has become ubiquitous on smartphones, in April, the PLA Daily urged military wives not to spill secrets when chatting on WeChat groups, after finding that strangers were seeking information about the troop through the chat group.
The PLA Daily also called on troops to be wary of free Wi-Fi services as people might intercept and tamper with information on phones connected to unsecured wireless networks.
In 2015, the country passed its first counter-espionage law. The law states that national security agencies are entitled to seize devices, funds, venues, supplies and any other property found to be related to espionage activities.
This stipulation was added after lawmakers suggested that electronic devices like smartphones could also be used in espionage, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
According to the law, anyone who deliberately or accidentally leaks national secrets can be detained for up to 15 days, and in severe cases, may even be charged with a criminal offense.