By Tsering Choephel
DHARAMSALA, 2 Aug: Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) state security ministry said on Tuesday that China should encourage its citizens to participate in counter-espionage work, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
China’s Ministry of State Security, the head agency overlooking foreign intelligence and anti-spying, called for ‘normalization’ for the mass population to participate in counter-espionage activities by establishing a ’system’, says the report.
The ‘system’ includes creating channels for individuals to report suspicious activity as well as commending and rewarding them, to encourage greater participation.
CCP’s counter-espionage law, which took effect in July this year, significantly expands the scope of activities that can be considered espionage by adding a catch-all provision and codifying the enforcement powers of relevant authorities.
“The most fundamental is to safeguard the leadership and ruling position of the Communist Party of China and the socialist system with Chinese characteristics,” the Minister of State Security Chen Yizin said in an article he wrote in July.
Political security, meaning safeguarding the supremacy of the CCP leadership as the apex priority, any actions or occurrences the authority deems a threat to it can be charged as a threat under undefined threat to ‘national security and interest’.
Additionally, the revised law gives authorities access to data, electronic equipment, and information on personal property to carry out anti-espionage operations.
In fact, a viral video of Chinese police randomly checking Shanghai subway commuters’ cell phones and collecting information in November last year, months before the July update, highlights the totalitarian nature of the CCP.
The report says the current popularisation of anti-spying programs aims to counter Western countries, notably the US’s charge of China’s espionage activities on its soil and other Western nations. The expose of China’s espionage entities working in various sectors, from business to academic to political organisation in the US and other countries has risen to the point it has become one of many elements pushing these nations to review and rewrite their policy and dealing with China.
In response to the US accusing China of engaging in cyberattacks, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson has called the US the “empire of hacking”, says the report.
At the same time, it tightens CCP’s iron grip over its populace to solidify Xi Jinping’s rule by striking fear in the already vacuum space of freedom of speech.
In occupied Tibet and East Turkistan, what CCP considers a threat to its rule or an act of espionage has no boundaries or all boundaries crossed if there exists one.
The number of Tibetan intellectuals, singers, environment and language activists and even common people with personal communications with their exiled family – charged as ‘separatists’, tortured and imprisoned – has been increasing under Xi’s rule.
The current political and social climate under Xi’s rule, many China analysts and observers say reeks of those from the Mao era, albeit with highly varnished and digitalised control.