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China's Latest Step to Root Out Foreign Spies? Cash Rewards for Informants.

China's National Security Bureau released a video warning people not to be lured by spies. Screenshot.

China's National Security Bureau is offering large cash rewards to citizens who report foreign spies.

A national hotline, #12339, has been available for citizens to report suspected espionage since November 2015. But starting on April 15, under the newly introduced “Measures on Rewards for Citizens Reporting Leads on Espionage Conduct”, citizens will be given up to 500,000 yuan, or about 73,000 US dollars, if their reports are useful.

According to an article in Beijing Morning Post, the reward system is meant to build an “anti-spy iron wall“:

随着我国改革开放的深入,对外交往明显增多,出入境人员逐年递增。境外间谍情报机关和其他敌对势力也借机加紧对我国进行政治渗透、分裂颠覆、情报窃密、勾连策反等破坏活动。
还有一些人出于个人私利,出卖国家利益,给境外间谍情报机关以可乘之机。北京作为首都,是境外间谍情报机关和其他敌对势力对我进行渗透、颠覆、分裂、破坏和窃密等活动的首选地。
基于以上原因和背景,反间谍侦查工作急需创新工作方式和工作方法,广泛发动群众,激发群众维护国家安全的积极性和自觉性,逐渐构筑起反奸防谍的钢铁长城。

As a result of the open-door policy in our country being expanded, interaction with foreigners has increased rapidly. The number of people entering and exiting the country has escalated. Foreign intelligence agencies and other hostile forces have been penetrating our country’s politics, inciting separation and subversion, stealing secrets and committing espionage activities.

Moreover, some individuals out of personal interest have sold out national interests to foreign intelligence agencies. Beijing as the capital is the number one location for foreign intelligence agencies and other hostile forces to organize activities for the purpose of penetration, subversion, separation, destruction and stealing secrets.

Against such a backdrop, there is a pressing need for anti-spy investigations to take an innovative approach by mobilizing the masses, making people aware and giving them the motivation to protect national security and to eventually build an anti-spy iron wall.

The new measure stresses that the identity of those forwarding along tips would be keep anonymous and ill-intended reports would be subjected to a fine.

The National Security Bureau also released a video via various outlets instructing citizens on what to be on guard for and explaining the details of the reward system. The video hosted on China Central Television’s social media account on Miaopai attracted more than 450 million views in one day.

Propaganda officials began advising the Beijing public to be on the lookout for foreign spies last year. One of the cartoon posters they released, titled “Dangerous Love,” warns Chinese women against being seduced by foreign men who have undercover motives.

According to the counter-espionage law passed in 2014 and the foreign NGO management law passed in 2016, it can be considered an act of espionage to work for organizations that receive foreign funding without the prior approval of the government.

In the past two years, a number of foreigners have been arrested for “posing a threat” to national security. In January 2016, Peter Dahlin, a Swedish human rights activist, was expelled from China after 23 days in detention. The more recent cases are the arrest of Taiwanese human right activist, Lee Ming-cheh, and the detention of Australian-based Chinese professor Feng Chongyi.

The China Youth Communist League was among those on popular social media platform Weibo that cheered the reward system, doing so with a rap song. The league's followers on Weibo reacted to the video by pointing at liberal public opinion leaders’ negative comments about China as an act of espionage. Below are some of the most liked comments on the video thread:

不白和尚:微博上至少有几十万。日本美国韩国各个国家都用基金会的名义收买他们,让他们带节奏,侮辱民族英雄,侮辱先烈,挑动地域歧视,民族歧视,职业歧视等所有分解民心的行为,并借助新闻事件造谣惑众,推波助澜。营造国家一团糟的氛围。诸如此类背后都有他们活跃的身影。

“Non-white monk”: There are at least tens of thousands [of spies] on Weibo. Japan, the US and Korea, they use all sort of premises to buy them off so that they lead the choir insulting national heroes, and inciting regional, ethnic and employment discrimination. They also make use of news incidents to create rumors and confuse people in order to paint a chaotic image of the country. They are active behind all this.

辰时赏雨:其实,间谍不一定是刺探,也许是卧个槽,以正义的名义来传播负能,以真相的方式来煽动极端。

“Watching rain at dawn”: actual spies are not necessarily those who are spying. They can be those who circulate negative energy with a sense of righteousness, those who incite extreme acts by revealing the truth.

Some supporters of the Youth League started naming public intellectuals as spies in the comments section:

橘子洲头12345:我举报教育部语文出版社长王旭明、袁腾飞、贺卫方、茅于轼是美国间谍。哈哈

“Mandarin zhoutou 12345″: I here reported Wang Xuming, the director of Language and Culture Press under the Education Bureau; Yuan Tengfei [a history teacher and a famous blogger]; He Weifang [a law professor]; and Mao Yushi [a prominent economist] as American spies.

苏麻离青rua:袁腾飞之流所谓公知,对国家政府冷嘲热讽,含沙射影。大吹欧美民主台湾正硕。这样的怎么举报?

“Su-ma-li-qing rua”: Yuan Tengfei and the so-called public intellectuals, they keep mocking the country and the government and keep praising western democracy and Taiwan's experience as the right path. How to report this?

In another news discussion thread on Weibo, voices were more critical:

还间谍呢,先管管贪官污吏再说吧,可别再走清朝老路了,家门都没清理干净,都不需要间谍,自行垮掉。

Still have time to talk about spies. Focus on corruption first or the country will be following the path of the Qing Dynasty. If you don’t fix your own house, it will collapse on itself.

看看评论 文革就是这样互相举报互相伤害搞起来的

Read the comments. The Cultural Revolution began with reporting and hurting each others.

如果微博评论自己的观点,都去捉,那得捉多少人?有言论自由不好? 那些观点跟自己不一样就说要捉别人的人,你们都是些什么人?

If talking about one’s opinion on Weibo deserves arrest, how many people will end up in jail? Free speech is bad? What kind of people would like to jail those who have different opinions other than their own?

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