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China urges citizens to become spies amid ‘grim and complex’ state affairs

Beijing: China’s Ministry of State Security has issued a resounding call for the public to join forces in the battle against espionage, emphasizing the implementation of the country’s recently amended anti-espionage law. The Ministry, in a WeChat article published on Tuesday, stressed the need for robust efforts in countering espionage, dubbing the current state of affairs […]

Edited By : Mayank Kasyap | Updated: Aug 3, 2023 11:08 IST
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China urges citizens to turn into spies
Image used for representational purpose only. (Photo Credit: Unsplash)

Beijing: China’s Ministry of State Security has issued a resounding call for the public to join forces in the battle against espionage, emphasizing the implementation of the country’s recently amended anti-espionage law. The Ministry, in a WeChat article published on Tuesday, stressed the need for robust efforts in countering espionage, dubbing the current state of affairs as “grim and complex.”

The new anti-espionage law, which came into effect a month ago, has propelled the Ministry to reach out to the public for support. The legislation, which underwent a major revision and was passed by the country’s top legislature in April, expands the scope of spying and grants law enforcement agencies increased investigative powers for inspecting electronic and digital devices.

Strengthening national security?

The call for public cooperation aligns with President Xi Jinping’s prior emphasis on addressing growing national security concerns. Amid escalating geopolitical tensions, President Xi urged officials earlier this year to prepare for “worst-case and most extreme scenarios.” This backdrop underscores the critical need for vigilance and collaborative efforts in protecting the country’s interests.

China’s response to CIA director’s remarks

Last week, Beijing made a solemn pledge to take “all necessary” countermeasures in response to remarks made by CIA Director William Burns at the Aspen Security Forum. Burns had acknowledged the agency’s progress in rebuilding its spy networks in China. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning criticized the US for engaging in espionage activities while simultaneously accusing Beijing of the same.

Involving the masses: Implementing the anti-espionage law

The newly amended law emphasizes the involvement of the general public in anti-espionage efforts. The Ministry highlighted that it is not solely the responsibility of security agencies to tackle espionage; instead, citizens’ active participation is imperative. Governments at all levels are urged to integrate counter-espionage knowledge into public education and training.

Reporting suspicious activities

To facilitate collective efforts, the Ministry proposed establishing a channel for citizens and organizations to report suspicious activities that may endanger state security. Citizens are encouraged to take part in counter-espionage work and will be recognized, rewarded, and protected for their contributions.

The revisions to the anti-espionage law underscore the utmost significance the Communist Party leadership places on national security. Before the amendment, Beijing had already highlighted numerous espionage cases and issued warnings to the Chinese populace to remain vigilant.

Minister of state security’s blatant stance

Minister of State Security Chen Yixin, who assumed office in October, has been vocal about intensifying enforcement using legal means. In a published commentary in June, he urged senior officials to thoroughly study the new law and emphasized “severely cracking down” on those attempting to steal China’s state secrets.

First published on: Aug 03, 2023 11:08 AM IST

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