China has intensified counterespionage efforts, urging citizens to be vigilant and report any suspected foreign agents or Western spy networks, according to a Fox News report.
This initiative comes in the wake of China’s new counterespionage law, which has been in effect for only a few months.
Gordon Chang, a senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute and the author of “The Coming Collapse of China,” commented on the situation.
“China’s officials say they want to promote tourism and boost the economy, but [Chinese President] Xi Jinping is security-obsessed, as dictators often are.” Chang said.
“To force his Maoist-like vision on China, Xi Jinping is cutting links with the world and promoting xenophobia. The report-foreign-spies campaign is very much in line with the mood of 1950s China.”
The National Counterintelligence and Security Center claims the new law broadens the definition of espionage.
Instead of just covering state secrets and intelligence, “espionage” now includes any documents, data, materials or items related to national security interests, without defining terms, according to the Center.
This expansion also broadens the scope of counterespionage law in the People’s Republic of China.
Chinese officials have launched a WeChat channel dedicated to reporting national security threats, the report added.
This channel actively reminds users that successful tips could lead to a reward of $13,700. An individual, identified by the surname “Zeng,” was arrested in August for allegedly providing information to the CIA, the report added.
Official statements suggest that Zeng had formed a working relationship with a U.S. official, exchanging confidential information for financial compensation.
The Ministry of State Security, China’s primary intelligence and security agency, asked citizens to actively defend the nation against espionage activities.
They have introduced a WeChat account with a “reporting” button and articles that guide citizens on how to alert authorities about potential national security threats.
One such article accuses Washington of “hyping up the China threat” narrative, according to the Fox report.
The Ministry of State Security also initiated a campaign under the slogan “It is everyone’s responsibility to maintain national security,” the report noted.
This campaign gained significant traction online, with the hashtag “Discovered espionage, dial 12339” garnering over 310 million views on Weibo. The bureau released posters specifically aimed at identifying “foreign spies.”
The counterespionage initiative is not limited to adults.
Reports from Chinese state media indicate “multiple regions across the country have reinforced education on counterespionage law in different forms including regular national security theory education.”
China’s focus on national security extends beyond just espionage. The nation is also taking measures against “foreign influence” within its borders.
A recent example of this is the cancellation of the first TED Talks since the onset of the COVID pandemic due to concerns about links to a foreign organization.
“China is not safe for any foreigner,” claimed Chang. “Among foreigners, only Japanese people are more at risk than Americans at the moment. Communist Party propaganda organs are now targeting these two countries, relentlessly and maliciously.”
“Chinese people are now fleeing China, so that’s a hint to others,” Chang added. “Everyone should flee while they still can.”