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Vietnam Sets Up Command Center for Cyberspace Defense

FILE - Students surf web at an Internet cafe in Hanoi, Vietnam, March 31, 2010.
FILE - Students surf web at an Internet cafe in Hanoi, Vietnam, March 31, 2010.

Vietnam announced on Monday the creation of a cyberspace operations command to protect its sovereignty on the Internet, with prime minister citing risks related to the disputed South China Sea and complex regional and global situations.

The new unit would "research and predict online wars," the defense ministry said in report on the government website, which also reported Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc's comments.

Vietnam is locked in a long-running territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea, which it refers to as the East Sea. While Phuc singled out the South China Sea, he made no mention of China.

"To protect the country in the new situation, the Communist Party has set a high priority on protection of the State in cyberspace," the website quoted Phuc as saying at the foundation ceremony for the new unit.

In December, Vietnam revealed it had a cyber warfare unit of 10,000 staff, named Force 47, to counter what it said were 'wrong' views on the Internet, local media reported.

The government has also called for closer watch over social media networks and sought the removal of content that it deemed offensive, but there has been little sign of it silencing criticism aired on global platforms.

In August, Vietnam's president said the country needed to pay greater attention to controlling "news sites and blogs with bad and dangerous content," amid a crackdown on critics of the one-party state.

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