The move could be seen as an invasion of the territory of Jiang Zemin, who is effectively chief commander President Hu Jintao has called on the military to step up its modernisation efforts in what some analysts see as a move into Jiang Zemin's territory. In a front-page article published by the People's Daily yesterday, Mr Hu said national defence should be improved to match China's 'economic development and scientific advancement'. Mr Hu, who is also the vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, highlighted information warfare technology as one of the areas that the People's Liberation Army needed to improve on. 'China must improve its research ... so as to constantly improve national defence and military modernisation,' Mr Hu said. The remarks were delivered at a meeting of the Politburo at which military experts briefed the leadership on military developments following the war in Iraq. Mr Hu's remarks echoed those made in the past by Mr Jiang, who has repeatedly called for the broader use of high technology by the 2.5-million-strong armed forces. Mr Jiang stepped down from his post as president in March but retains chairmanship of the Central Military Commission, effectively making him China's top military commander. A Taiwan-based military expert said Mr Hu's statement might have been a sign of conflict in his relationship with Mr Jiang. Lin Wen-cheng, director of the Institute of Mainland China Studies at the National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, said: 'Following incidents such as the military's role in the cover-up of the Sars outbreak and the submarine accident, there is a growing concern over the relationship between Mr Hu and Mr Jiang. This is a development that deserves further observation.' The military was accused of concealing the Sars outbreak by not reporting cases to the health department in Beijing. It was not until a retired military doctor came forward and alleged government officials were lying that more accurate numbers came out. Reports have suggested Mr Hu has pushed for increased transparency in the military. Last month the official media reported, with unusual candour, that a submarine accident had killed the 70-member crew. Professor Lin said it was strange for Mr Hu to make comments regarding the PLA, as protocol would dictate that he was not supposed to steal the limelight from Mr Jiang by lecturing on a future vision for the military. However, Mr Hu's message did not contradict Mr Jiang's military policy, so it was too early to conclude that the two leaders were locked in a power struggle with each other, he said. According to Professor Lin, Mr Hu's remarks reflect the leadership's growing interest in information warfare. Citing a recent report from the Central Academy of Military Sciences in Beijing, he said China needed 20 to 30 years to catch up with US military capabilities. Professor Lin said China needed to use technology rather than size to improve its capabilities as experts had warned a Sino-US arms race could harm China's economy.