China has warned military fans to stop posting photos of the country’s army equipment online — or face prison.
According to a report by CNN, China’s Ministry of State Security warned that amateur military enthusiasts could be imprisoned for up to seven years for their “cool hobby.”
Photos of China’s military ships or aircraft have reportedly become popular online as the country rapidly modernizes its forces.
Military enthusiasts have been increasingly posting photos of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s equipment on social media sites such as Weibo — which has over 582 million monthly active users.
‘This is a Cool Hobby – But You Must Be Very Careful’
However, the Ministry of State Security — which oversees intelligence and counterintelligence both within China and overseas — took to the instant messaging app WeChat on Saturday to warn military fans about posting their photos on social media.
It said that these photos compromised the nation’s security as the images revealed the progress of construction on warships and aircraft — as well as disclosed operational and technical details about Chinese military hardware to the outside world.
“This is a cool hobby, but you must be very careful,” the Ministry of State Security says in a message on WeChat.
“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.”
According to the Ministry of State Security’s message, repeat violators could be imprisoned for up to seven years. However, “first-time or occasional offenders” may only receive a warning.
China’s newest aircraft carrier, the Fujian, has been a frequent subject of amateur photographers as it is fitted out in a shipyard in Shanghai. And earlier this year, China’s state broadcaster CCTV reported that a “fairly renowned” military enthusiast named Mr. Luo was sentenced to one year in prison in November 2021 for photographing the Fujian carrier.
CNN reports that the warning to military fans comes as Chinese leaders have become increasingly focused on ensuring national security across a range of sectors, especially as tensions rise with the U.S.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.