BEIJING, April 10 China's capital is stepping up
a campaign against foreign espionage from Monday, offering
rewards ranging from $1,500 to $73,000 to citizens who blow the
whistle on suspected spies, state media said.
Since taking office in 2013, President Xi Jinping has
overseen a raft of laws and campaigns to secure China's national
security against both domestic and foreign threats.
The "pressing" need for new measures to guard against
foreign spies is an unfortunate side-effect of China's reform
and opening up to the world, the official Beijing Daily
"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," it added.
The Beijing City National Security Bureau is encouraging
citizens to join counterintelligence efforts, by offering
rewards of 10,000 to 500,000 yuan ($1,500 to $73,000) for
information on spies, it said.
The government has acquired new powers to safeguard China
with a national security law passed in 2014, followed by
measures on counter-terrorism, the management of foreign
non-government bodies and cyber security.
Western governments have spoken out against the new measures
that they say define China's national interests too broadly,
flagging the risk that they could be used to intensify a
crackdown on dissent.
China says the laws are fitting, given the reality of its
national security concerns.
In April last year, China launched a series of warnings
against espionage, publicising rare details of spy cases in
state media, and highlighting how romantic relationships may be
used to uncover sensitive information.
Rewards to encourage security vigilance are a common
government tactic used, for instance, to draw out information on
"terrorism" in far western Xinjiang.
Working with employees of state organisations to harm
China's national interests, encouraging defection and buying
state secrets are potential spy behaviours that could be
reported, the paper said.
Discovering espionage equipment, such as recording and
monitoring devices, could bring extra rewards.
For example, fishermen in coastal Jiangsu province received
rewards in January for the discovery of a suspicious device that
proved to be collecting data for foreign countries.
People exploiting the new measures to frame rivals will be
held accountable, the paper warned, but good faith errors will
attract no reprisals.
(Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Clarence