China is offering rewards of more than US$15,000 for citizens who report actions deemed a threat to national security, as the ruling Communist Party ramps up law enforcement ahead of its twice-a-decade national congress.
The Ministry of State Security on Monday said a new regulation setting out criteria for the rewards had been introduced with immediate effect.
Anyone who reports a clear target or verifiable lead for actions not already known to the state and considered damaging to national security will be eligible for a reward once it is confirmed by investigators.
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A ministry spokesperson said the regulation would encourage citizens to report such threats and that it was a concrete security measure in the lead-up to the party congress later this year.
China’s national security and anti-espionage laws cover actions deemed to threaten the country’s sovereignty and security. But neither specifies punishments for offenders, saying only that any violation is a criminal offence. And since the legislation is wide-ranging and vague – from treason to economic interests – there is room for interpretation as to what constitutes an offence.
Under the new regulation, informants will be eligible for cash rewards and certificates in a four-tier system. It states that a lead at the lowest level could earn a reward of less than 10,000 yuan while someone who provides a tip-off at the top end – seen as “exceedingly significant” – could pocket more than 100,000 yuan.
Informants can pass on information using their real identities or anonymously via telephone, email, letter or in person.
National security officials will decide whether a tip-off will receive a reward and its value within 30 days of acting on a verified lead, and payment will be made by the ministry’s municipal branches.
The regulation also states that, in order to protect informants, their workplace or organisation will be punished if there is any move to take revenge or hide evidence from national security police, but it does not give details of the penalty.
It comes after a 37-year-old man was reportedly arrested by national security police in the eastern city of Hangzhou in April, accused of colluding with overseas anti-China forces and using the internet to incite secession and subversion of state power.
State media identified the man by his surname, Ma, and said he was the director of hardware research and development at an IT company. Official reports accused him of leveraging “external forces” to overthrow the Chinese government.
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