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China’s spy agency warns students studying, visiting and holidaying abroad against foreign espionage

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  • February 8, 2024

SINGAPORE: China’s top spy agency has warned Chinese students studying abroad against working with foreign spies as Beijing’s national security drive continues apace amid tensions with the West.

The Ministry of State Security sounded the alarm on Wednesday (Feb 7) on its WeChat account, cautioning Chinese nationals to be alert and avoid contact or cooperating with foreign intelligence agencies – be it studying or travelling overseas, or just paying a visit abroad.

This will help people to be timely in “uncovering the ulterior motives of seemingly cordial interactions”, it said in the post which had more than 100,000 views.

“In the face of all kinds of solicitation and counter-intelligence activities by foreign espionage agencies, it is necessary to maintain a line of defence and avoid falling into the traps set by (them)”, the ministry wrote.

At the same time, the ministry assured that for people who are coerced or tricked into joining foreign espionage organisations and carrying out activities which endanger China’s national security, they may not be prosecuted if they “promptly and truthfully” explain the situation to Chinese authorities.

EMBROILED IN ESPIONAGE

The post details a “real case” involving a Chinese student who was “severely punished” for leaking Chinese scientific research after graduating.

The student, referred to only by the surname Zhang, is said to have become involved in espionage while studying at a top-ranked college overseas in 2006. The ministry did not identify the country.

Zhang had been tasked to liaise with other Chinese students at the college due to his outstanding academic performance. This gained the attention of a senior figure in the college.

This person went on to introduce Zhang to two people who turned out to be foreign spies, the ministry wrote.

They convinced Zhang to provide intelligence on Chinese international students and eventually other “sensitive information” in return for money.

With their help, Zhang secured a job in a Chinese research institution in China even though his grades were below the entry requirement. In return, Zhang continued feeding information to them, including confidential data, the WeChat account said.

Eventually, Zhang’s actions were found out and he was punished for committing espionage, the ministry said, adding that Zhang had essentially “buried his promising prospects and youth” by giving in to the foreign intelligence agency’s “emotional manipulation and monetary temptation”.
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