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After the Golden Shield, China sets up cyber warfare unit

May 27, 2011 15:18 IST

The People's Liberation Army, of China has formed a special cyber warfare unit, called Blue Team, to safeguard the Internet security of the military, Chinese Defence Ministry has said.

It is important for the military to strengthen its defence capabilities against the internet attacks, Defence Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng has been quoted as saying in the official media on Friday.

"Cyber attacks have become an international problem affecting both civilian and military areas. China is relative weak in cyber security and has often been targeted. This temporary programme is aimed at improving our defences against such attacks," Geng said.

"This is just a training programme based on our needs," Geng said, warning others not to exaggerate the issue. Liu Yong, with China Security magazine, told the Global Times that China needed this move to meet the rising demand for better cyber security, and that this program shows the seriousness with which it is taking actions in this area.

"China has been accused of cyber attacks by some Western countries in recent years, but all these accusations had no substantiating concrete evidence. In fact, China is facing no less cyber attacks than any other country in the world," he said.

"As part of the army's high-tech development plan, cyber defence has vastly improved in the past five years. The programme needs to follow up with technology advancement and a better talent pool," Liu said.

In April, the PLA revealed a talent pool plan and said that by 2020, the army would train and recruit highly skilled personnel to handle advanced weaponry, cyber warfare and to carry out unconventional security tasks, according to the South China Morning Post.

To accomplish this, the PLA set out eight major programs, including optimisation and readjustment of talent structure, advanced training in technology innovation and the recruitment of personnel for special combat missions, the report said.

According to Liu, the personnel of the future Chinese cyber army would mainly come from PLA schools. Some may also be recruited outside the army as the talent plan gets underway.

China says it is not the first country to make specific investments in cyber-defence capabilities pointing to the Cyber Command set up by the United States army in 2009 as a subordinate to Strategic Command.

Internet security has become an international problem, affecting both civilians and the military, Geng said, adding that China is still relatively weak in internet security protection.

Luo Yuan, a Major General of the PLA Academy of Military Sciences, told the state run Global Times that with other militaries stepping into cyberspace, it is understandable for China to follow suit.

"Some of these countries' cyber commands or institutes are capable of both cyber defence and attack. The Guangzhou Military Region's program focuses on training, which should not spark undue alarm from the international community," Luo said.

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