China launches website to report foreign spies

By AFP April 16,2018

A man walks past a cartoon warning about foreign spies in Beijing last May: a website for tip-offs has now been launched. /AFP

China has stepped up its campaign against foreign espionage with a website in Mandarin and English encouraging people to report national security threats such as bids to “overthrow the socialist system.”

The website, www.12339.gov.cn, launched by the Ministry of National Security on Sunday, also urges anyone to report attempts by Chinese nationals or foreigners to bribe state or military officials, instigate armed riots or incite ethnic separatism.

Potential problematic behavior also includes foreigners meeting “any person within China who has conducted activities endangering state security or is strongly suspected of doing so” — raising concerns that any interaction with dissidents would be frowned upon.

Informants will be rewarded for discovering espionage equipment or for tip-offs on anyone suspected of buying or selling state secrets, according to the website, which allows users to lodge complaints in both Chinese and English.

The website did not offer details on the rewards. The Beijing City National Security Bureau was offering 10,000 to 500,000 yuan ($1,500 to $73,000) for information on spies, the official Beijing Daily reported.

The ministry has also released a cartoon, entitled “A Friend with a Mask,” to illustrate possible questionable behavior, as part of its campaign to mark China’s National Security Education Day on April 15.

The cartoon tells the story of a foreigner from an international non-governmental organization, who is promoting “western-style” workers’ rights in China.

The foreigner allegedly “bribes” a Chinese representative to organize seminars and mobilize workers to protest for their rights. According to the cartoon, such public protests are illegal and a vigilant worker reports the foreigner behind “the unrest.”

In 2016 another series of cartoons published by the ministry warned Chinese nationals against entering into romantic relationships with foreigners, since this could be a possible means of eliciting state secrets.

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