• Beijing State Security

Beijing State Security (Photo : Getty Images)

Beijing is offering people who can give information about foreign spies and their espionage activities with up to half a million renminbi (more than $72,000), Beijing newspapers reported on Monday, April 10.

The New York Times said that the rewards for exposing a spy were offered by Beijing Municipal Bureau of State Security, with the rewards ranging from the lowest category of $1,450 to $72,000, the highest category.

Like Us on Facebook

"For actions that play a particularly large role in preventing or halting espionage activity or breaking espionage cases, and for contributions of especially important leads, the reward will be from 100,000 to 500,000 yuan," according to the rules.

The rules said that successful whistleblowers and "informants can pick up the reward within 90 days of receiving notification."

The agency also started an online cartoon ad to promote the campaign, featuring a young boy wearing a Communist Young Pioneer scarf dishing the dirt on a bearded foreigner wearing a bandit's mask.

"Steal state secrets with me and make a fortune by selling them abroad!" the swarthy foreigner tells the boy outside a hotel.

But the Young Pioneer tells an officer and took the foreigner away in handcuffs. The boy received a lollipop as a reward and the ad tells residents that they can get more than that if snitch on spies they know.

According to the report, the cash-for-spies campaign is part of government measures to counter foreign espionage and subversion. A counterespionage law was also implemented by the government in 2014. In addition, the National Security Commission and the Ministry of State Security were established to look into espionage activities.

The new rules said that the campaign was initiated in Beijing because it is a key location for "foreign espionage and intelligence agencies and other hostile forces who are engaged in infiltration, subversion, separatism, sabotage and stealing secrets."

There have been reports of foreigners arrested and Chinese nationals accused of being spies recently although no details were given. In Jilin Province, the local government opened a hotline (dial 12339) where residents can report possible spies.

The government, however, warned people about abusing the rules of the campaign. The rules said that those who "use the excuse of informing to deliberately make false accusations or frame others" will be prosecuted.

The government said that residents may call a state security phone line (12339, like the Jilin number), or write to the Beijing state security bureau or come to their office at No. 9, Qianmen Street East, not far from Tiananmen Square.