ANI Photo | China enlists citizens to guard against perceived threats: Report

Amidst the deteriorating economic situation in China, the ruling Communist Party is enlisting its ordinary citizens to guard against the perceived threats to the country, The New York Times reported.
Even though China is facing a bad phase in the economic sector, its leader Xi Jinping appears to be more fixated on national security and preventing threats to the party’s control.
This campaign is blurring the line between vigilance and paranoia.
According to The New York Times, Chinese universities require the faculty to take courses on protecting state secrets, even in departments like veterinary medicine. A kindergarten in the eastern city of Tianjin organised a meeting to teach staffers how to “understand and use” China’s anti-espionage law.
China’s Ministry of State Security, a usually covert department that oversees the secret police and intelligence services, has even opened its first social media account, as part of what official news media described as an effort at increasing public engagement. Its first post: a call for a “whole of society mobilization” against espionage.
“The participation of the masses,” the post said, should be “normalised.”
“We must be prepared for worst-case and extreme scenarios,” Xi told China’s National Security Commission in May. He called on officials to “enhance real-time monitoring” and “get prepared for actual combat.”
The sense of urgency may be heightened by the fact that China is confronting some of its biggest challenges since Xi’s ascension more than a decade ago. Beyond the economic gloom, China’s relations with the West are increasingly tense. And unexplained personnel changes at the highest tiers of power — including the sudden removal in July of China’s foreign minister and two high-ranking generals — suggest that Xi may have feared threats to his control, reported The New York Times.
In July, China revised its anti-espionage law to broaden an already sweeping scope of activities that it regards as spying. It is offering rewards of tens of thousands of dollars to people who report spies.
While the call for mass vigilance has inspired widespread caution, it is unclear to what extent that is translating to action on the ground. In the last month, the authorities have announced the capture of at least four spies, including two men recruited by the CIA, but some of the cases appeared to be old ones belatedly announced, such as a married couple arrested in 2019.
The authorities also said earlier this year that they had sentenced an American citizen to life in prison for espionage, and they arrested a high-ranking Chinese newspaper editor while he was dining with a Japanese diplomat, as per The New York Times.

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