China Launches New Anti-Spying Campaign
China recently released an unusual comic strip. The comic – which tells a story in words and drawings – appears to be about a romantic relationship between a western student and a Chinese woman. But the comic is really part of China's new anti-spying campaign.
In the comic, a western student named David meets a Chinese woman named Xiao-Li. David brings Xiao-Li flowers, he buys her dinner, and he takes her for walks in the park. Then he asks Xiao-Li for secret documents.
The comic, or cartoon, warns citizens against helping people who might be spies. China has also released a phone number citizens can call if they are suspicious about foreign spies and Chinese citizens who might be helping them.
China's anti-spying effort comes at a time when two high-profile criminal cases are making headlines.
Just last week, the Chinese government sentenced to death a computer technician for helping foreign spies.
The computer technician's name is Huang Yu. He was accused of taking $700,000 over the course of almost 10 years to pass confidential information to a foreign country. His mother and brother-in-law were also punished for helping him.
Huang appeared on national television with a message: turn yourself in if you are spying for a foreign country. “It’s better for your family and for you,” he said.
The Chinese government prosecuted another man for stealing state secrets. He was a Canadian who operated a café near China’s border with North Korea.
There are several points of view about the anti-spying campaign.
One view, according to analysts in China, is that it makes sense to be worried about citizens passing secret information to foreigners.
“Any responsible government should be concerned,” says Shen Dingli, an international relations professor at Fudan University.
But others say the anti-spying campaign makes the average Chinese person more afraid of foreigners. They warn it also makes citizens more accepting of government restrictions on press and social media.
Eva Pils is a legal scholar from Kings College in London. She says China’s campaign against spying “helps the government explain the need for the repression of civil society.”
I’m Dan Friedell.
Words in This Story
cartoon – n. a series of drawings that tell a story
prosecute – v. to hold a trial against a person who is accused of a crime to see if that person is guilty
confidential – adj. secret or private