Chinese schools and colleges will train students how to spot and catch foreign spies through easy-to-read books and ready reckoners on anti-espionage in a new Communist Party of China campaign that’s expected to spread its net nationwide this year.
The books to be distributed among primary, middle school and senior college students will have graphics, comics and games like “find the spy”.
On April 15, China marked the country’s second National Security Education Day and the first set of readers on how to spot a spy was published eastern China’s Jiangsu province.
“The books use easy-to-read language and comics to spread knowledge about national security, the threat apparently posed by spies and how to spot potential terror threats,” the tabloid Global Times said in a report.
“Students from primary schools to colleges were specifically targeted by this publicity drive to mobilise them as a huge counter-spy force,” the report said about the aim of the countrywide publicity events held to mark the day.
It seems the government’s thinking is that even primary school students should be aware of the “complicated” world situation.
The publishing house told the newspaper that the books will used “on a large scale from this year on. It is very trendy for middle and primary students to receive this kind of education given the increasingly complicated world situation.”
In another “educational” chart circulated online, “...readers were given definitions of a spy, what kinds of people are vulnerable to manipulation by foreign governments and how agents of overseas intelligence agencies may set traps or lure people to work for them”.
An intelligence officer with the People’s Liberation Army lectured students in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province that “threats lie all around them”.
The lecture was broadcast live in all Hubei schools; it was viewed by 1.53 million college students and 5.52 million primary and middle school students.
“We can never be too careful even in peacetime. Spies and secret agents might be all around us,” Wang Dawei from the People's Public Security University of China said.
The government’s focus on catching spies could be based on intelligence but some could say the new anti-espionage campaigns give out a hint of paranoia.
Only earlier this month, the official Beijing Daily newspaper said the Beijing City National Security Bureau “is encouraging citizens to join counter-intelligence efforts, by offering rewards of 10,000 to 500,000 yuan ($1,500 to $73,000) for information on spies.”
And, last year, a cartoon had warned Chinese women to stay away from men from western countries because they could be spies.