Chinese citizens coaxed into the spying game

Ministry of State Security offers US$15,000 for intel on foreign agents and collaborators

Catch a spy and win US$15,000. No, it is not a crazy Chinese game show but state policy.

In a blatant blast of paranoia mixed with propaganda, President Xi Jinping’s ruling Communist Party administration has rolled out a nationwide “national security” plan to combat “hostile forces.”

Citizen spies are at the heart of the strategy unveiled by the Ministry of State Security earlier this week.

“The formulation of the measures helps fully mobilize the enthusiasm of the general public to support and assist in national security work,” a ministry spokesperson told the Legal Daily.

“[It will] rally the hearts, morale, wisdom, and strength of the people,” the spokesperson added as reported by the state-run newspaper.

Spying on the spies:

  • Chinese do-it-yourself snoops will be paid on a sliding scale for state intel.
  • Graded rewards range from 10,000 yuan ($1,500) to more than 100,000 yuan ($15,000).
  • The Ministry of State Security has even launched a hotline for citizen spies to report foreign “agents” and Chinese “collaborators.”
  • Still, critics have accused Beijing of ramping up its nationalistic narrative by painting a picture that China is in “grave danger.”
  • The Party doctrine is that “hostile foreign forces,” namely the United States and its allies, are trying to infiltrate and undermine the world’s second-largest economy.

We must ensure that national security is all for the people and all by the people.

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Delve deeper: Secrecy is ingrained in the Communist Party. Since the CCP gained power in 1949, the public has been encouraged to report Chinese citizens that fail to toe the Party line, regarding them as “enemies of the state.”

Security risk: “We must ensure that national security is all for the people and all by the people, mobilizing the efforts of the whole Communist Party and [the] whole [of] society to bring together powerful forces to safeguard national security,” Xi told officials in 2016.

Between the lines: Beijing is already using “Big Brother” surveillance techniques against ordinary law-abiding citizens, especially those from ethnic groups.

Social dystopia: The Party has also turned China’s “social credit” system into a form of coercion. Human Rights Watch has called it “chilling.” Others have labeled it “a futuristic vision of Big Brother out of control,” the Insider reported.

Alternative view: “China’s national security is confronted with a severe and complex situation. In particular, foreign intelligence agencies and hostile forces have significantly intensified their infiltration and espionage activities, posing a serious threat to China’s national security,” the Ministry of State Security spokesperson said.

China Factor comment: Beijing’s latest edict is yet another move to fan the flames of rampant nationalism while continuing to play the role of the “victim” instead of the “violator.”