Beijing : China is offering cash rewards of up to USD 72,400 to encourage residents in the capital Beijing to report about foreign spies in the country, stepping up its campaign against espionage.

Beijing’s residents can report through a hotline, by mail or in person any activity endangering China’s national security or thefts of national secrets, the Beijing Daily and other state media reported. The top reward for whistle-blowers ranges from USD 1,500 (100,000 yuan) to USD 72,400 (500,000 yuan), depending on how important the intelligence is, the report said.

The announcement comes as the central government has become increasingly suspicious of overseas organisations and personnel, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Monday. Foreign non-governmental organisations in China, for example, are now required to register with the police rather than the civil affairs authority, as they used to. Beijing state security posted cartoons in public venues early last year warning young Chinese women to be careful if dating foreign men because they could be spies. Under the new regulations, any reports that prove unfounded will be tolerated as long as the informer was not deliberately giving false information or trying to harass someone.

“Beijing is the top choice for overseas spy agencies and other hostile forces to conduct activities of infiltration, subversion, division, destruction and information theft,” a statement from the security bureau said. “China’s national security is ‘under threat as foreign spies target nation’s young internet users’.

The state security apparatus has decided to motivate the masses to gradually build up a steel Great Wall against spies and espionage,” the statement added.

A national hotline was set up two years ago in China to report spying.     PTI

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