Beijing. June 2 (Hindustan Times): The economy might be slowing but cash-rich China is offering its citizens up to a healthy $73,000 for spotting foreign spies in Beijing, state media reported quoting a government circular.
Since spies in real life aren’t usually as conspicuous as certain fictional ones, the government is attempting to rope in Beijing’s residents in its attempt to ferret out the less high-profile ones.
The reward in store is pretty big: The official Beijing Daily newspaper said the Beijing City National Security Bureau – the city police essentially – “is encouraging citizens to join counter-intelligence efforts, by offering rewards of 10,000 to 500,000 yuan ($1,500 to $73,000) for information on spies.”
It is an effort to counter the less positive effects of opening up China to reform and outside influence and as it turns out, infiltration.
“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,” the newspaper added, painting a rather grim picture of foreigners.
“As the capital of China, Beijing is a prime location for foreign spies, and the city is “in urgent need of creative ways to mobilise people to build an anti-spy, steel-like Great Wall,” the government circular said.
The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post noted the announcement comes at a time when authorities have “become increasingly suspicious of overseas organisations and personnel.”
“Foreign non-governmental organisations in China, for example, are now required to register with the police rather than the civil affairs authority, as they used to,” it pointed out.
Last year, Beijing authorities put out cartoons in public places warning Chinese women to be wary of dating foreign men.
It’s of course not new for the Chinese government to dangle cash rewards for information.
Earlier this year, authorities in the Hotan prefecture in the northwestern province of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region offered 100 million Yuan or $14.5 million for tips on terrorists.
“The rewards go up to 5 million Yuan ($ 730,000) for verifiable operational inside information on plans for attacks in crowded areas or at government offices,” the Hotan Daily reported.
Awards were included for “reporting violent terrorists and religious extremists establishing ties, or inciting or swearing oaths of holy war, or clues on the organisation of illegal cross-border entry and exit.”
(The featured image at the top is a file picture of the alleged US spy in China, businesswomen Phan Phan-Gillis, caught in 2015)