HONG KONG – China’s top secret civilian spy service has launched a public account on a major social media platform to urge “all members of society” to join the fight against espionage and provide information. To give rewards and protection
The Ministry of State Security oversees intelligence and counterintelligence in China and abroad. Its scope of work has drawn comparisons between the CIA and the FBI, but its work is largely secret – it does not even describe its activities on a public website.
But on Monday, the company opened an account on WeChat, the wildly popular social messaging app with more than a billion users. A day later, the account published its first post.
Titled “All Members of Society Must Unite to Fight Espionage,” the ministry said national security agencies should keep open reporting channels such as hotlines and online platforms to deal with reports of suspected espionage within China in a timely manner. required
It states: “Improving the mechanism for reporting espionage through legal recognition, rewards and protection for individuals and organizations that report espionage, so as to normalize the mechanism for individuals to participate in counter-espionage activities.”
It also said that it was the job of “national institutions, civic groups, and business enterprises” to implement counter-espionage measures and that government and “industry leaders” should take responsibility.
For years, Chinese authorities have encouraged the public through propaganda and advertising campaigns to report suspected foreign spies and their Chinese collaborators.
But those efforts have accelerated under Xi Jinping, China’s most assertive and authoritarian leader, who has made state security his top priority.
Officials and state media have long promoted the narrative that China faces a constant threat from “hostile foreign forces” that allegedly seek to infiltrate and undermine the country — a message that Western powers disagree with. Relationships have grown stronger as a result of sour relationships.
Scope of Anti-Espionage Law:
The security ministry’s first WeChat post referred to new changes to the counterintelligence law passed by Chinese lawmakers earlier this year, which took effect on July 1.
It added that news agencies, broadcasters, TV stations, the cultural sector, and internet providers should also participate in counterintelligence education.
China passed a sweeping anti-espionage law in 2014 that some experts have already called “vague and powerful.” However, in April the law was updated to expand its scope.
Recent amendments have expanded the definition of espionage to include any “document, data, material, or object relating to national security and interests” of state secrets and intelligence agencies, without providing specific parameters to define these terms.
Cyber attacks targeting China’s core information infrastructure belonging to spy agencies are also classified as espionage under the new changes.
The move has raised concerns among analysts about the potential impact on foreign companies, journalists, and academics, who may face greater legal exposure and uncertainty about their jobs.
Before the law took effect earlier this year, Chinese authorities shut down the Beijing office of US corporate due diligence firm Mintz Group and arrested five local employees.
US consulting firm Bain & Co also announced in April that Chinese police had questioned employees at its Shanghai office.
Meanwhile, Japan has demanded the release of a Japanese Astellas Pharma employee arrested in March in Beijing on suspicion of espionage.
Earlier anti-espionage campaigns:
China has repeatedly appealed to the public to track down potential spies.
In June last year, China announced “material rewards” of up to 100,000 yuan (US$15,000) for information on national security threats.
Those who provided ambiguous information received “spiritual rewards” in the form of certificates from the authorities.
A campaign in 2016 famously used 16-panel comic-style posters that spanned the entire D.