ANI Photo | Under Xi Jinping, China’s powerful spy agency drastically raises its public profile

China’s ‘notoriously secretive’ spy agency, the Ministry of State Security (MSS) has taken centre stage, raising its public profile and broadening its remit under Xi Jinping, according to CNN.
With no presence earlier in the public spotlight, the Chinese spy agency has now turned the tables and become highly visible.
In Chinese cities, posters and slogans promoting national security are now a common sight on sidewalks, subway trains, campuses and billboards. Moreover, on social media, the ministry commands a massive following with near-daily commentaries, short videos or even comic strips sounding the alarm about supposed threats to the country, according to CNN.
China’s top spy agency recently sent a harsh message to the Chinese people in the form of a short video commemorating National Security Education Day: “foreign spies are everywhere.”
In the three-minute video, a beady-eyed, broad-faced man poses as a food delivery driver, a businessman, a lab technician, or even a street fashion photographer while menacing music plays. He even sets up an online honey trap to obtain critical state secrets from a variety of locations and industries.
The Ministry of State Security (MSS), China’s potent civilian spy agency, has released the short propaganda video in an attempt to mentally prepare the Chinese people against what it sees as the growing threat of foreign espionage.
The MSS claims that foreign spies are pervasive and have infiltrated every aspect of life, including weather stations and mapping applications in the country.
The ministry has also disclosed information about what it describes as the espionage efforts of American and British spy agencies, as well as the purported CIA recruitment of Chinese people who are studying or working overseas, CNN reported.
In a National Security Education Day documentary last week, the MSS disclosed that a Chinese scientist who was found guilty of selling state secrets to a foreign intelligence organisation was put to death in 2016. The documentary did not explicitly mention which country, but its images show an American flag and the US Capitol building.
The MSS’s change is a component of Xi’s broad turn to strengthen national security, CNN said.
China’s spy agency, MSS always had a veil of secrecy to it. Early in the 1980s, when China emerged from decades of political unrest and self-imposed isolation under Chairman Mao Zedong to embrace market reforms and open up to the outside world, the government re-evaluated its needs for national security, giving rise to the MSS.
It was founded in 1983 by merging an intelligence department of the ruling Chinese Communist Party and a counterespionage unit in the police force. It oversees intelligence and counterintelligence both within China and overseas, with provincial and municipal branches extending throughout the country.
With provincial and municipal units spread around the nation, it is in charge of overseeing intelligence and counterintelligence both inside China and abroad.

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