Beijing is so concerned about threats from foreign agents that they are now offering cash to citizens who rat on spies.
What’s the quickest way to turn a buck in China?
Report a spy!
Citizens can earn cash rewards of up to $73,000 for reporting spies or cracking espionage cases, a state-run newspaper reported. There are three ways to snitch – by phone, in person, or by writing a letter.
The Beijing City National Security Bureau has come up with an animated video that guides people on how to spot a spy and subsequently claim their reward.
Informants may receive their loot within 90 days – if the report is verified – and can collect the money in person or anonymously if they trust someone to collect the reward.
Officials have warned that anyone found exploiting the scheme could be prosecuted.
What if your date turns out to be a spy?
The Chinese government believes that he or she may not be who they say they and there are guidelines to catch them out.
Beijing has issued a series of warnings on how romantic relationships can be used to extract sensitive information and endanger national security.
The campaign includes a comic book-style poster advising female government workers how to avoid the “trap” of dating handsome foreigners.
The posters – titled “Dangerous Love” – aim at educating public servants on how to keep information classified and report to state agencies if they spot a suspected spy. Chinese social media was abuzz with guidelines on how to spot a potential spy, and advice to beware strange foreign men with “vague job titles and a lot of money” or “those who bring up controversial topics at parties and then only observe the discussion.”
Is China being paranoid?
Once closed off, China opened its doors to the world four decades ago, but suspicions about outsiders are still pervasive. Some officials believe opening up to the rest of the world has made the country vulnerable – especially with foreign spy agencies sneaking around the country stealing state secrets.
The official Beijing Daily newspaper wrote: “Foreign intelligence organs and other hostile forces have also seized the opportunity to sabotage our country through political infiltration, division and subversion, stealing secrets and collusion.”
In January 2016, a group of fishermen in Jiangsu province found a suspicious device while trawling for fish, and reported it to the authorities. It was later found that the object was collecting data on China for foreign countries.
Can the reward scheme work?
Beijing believes so, but not everyone is convinced.
Li Fan, the founder of the private think tank World and China Institute, said the new rules were issued days after President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to warm social relations between their two countries.
“This is absolutely inexplicable and absurd.I don’t know what the government is thinking about,” Li told Washington Post.
A similar incentives scheme has also been used for gathering intelligence in China’s western Xinjiang province, with some success.
Under Xi, China has passed strict national security laws to strengthen and safeguard the national interests. Foreign organisations and companies are now subject to heightened scrutiny.