China is all set to loosen its tight control on the use of cell phones by its soldiers and also plans to relax the internet curbs, citing the requirements of the information age. "Along with the evolution of information technology, service members' demand for information has grown," People's Liberation Army (PLA) General Staff Headquarters said in a statement.
"Responding to this situation, we will make some changes to the current stipulations on the use of cell phones to meet service members' reasonable needs," state-run China Daily quoted the statement as saying. In addition, rules governing PLA members' use of the internet and uniform code for civilian personnel will also be adjusted, it added, without giving details about the adjustments. The updated versions will take effect next year.
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The revisions are part of PLA's ongoing efforts to update three regulations that govern service members' conduct and discipline. The common regulations of the Chinese army include the Routine Service Regulations, the Disciplinary Regulations and the Drill Regulations, aiming to regulate the routine activities of China's military in a legislative manner.
The regulations were issued in June 2010. "According to the current regulations, officers and soldiers in my unit are banned from using cell phones from Monday to Saturday, whether they want to make a call, send a text message or take a picture," an officer of the Beijing Military Command told the Daily.
"Only unit commanders and a handful of officers are allowed to use cell phones on weekdays, but they can't use smart phones that can log on to the Internet and take pictures," he said. "Considering that this is the information age, such stipulations should be changed. The military can develop and produce its own cell phones that are secure and have access to our internal website," he said.
This is the second time this year that the military has brought up cell phone use and the Internet. In early February, the PLA published a host of rules, including prohibitions on running personal blogs, online chats and job hunting.