Citizens could receive up to 58,500 for intelligence on infiltration, subversion and theft of information
We should go to the masses and learn from them, Chairman Mao once counselled his comrades.
Not least, it now seems, if the masses have inadvertently stumbled upon the names and addresses of ill-intentioned foreign spies who have infiltrated Chinese society and are trying to bring down the Communist party.
As of Monday, Beijings 22 million residents are being offered cash rewards of up to 500,000 yuan (about 58,500) for providing authorities with intelligence that helps them foil the nefarious activities of such agents.
The initiative was announced in the Beijing Daily, a Communist party broadsheet, and is part of a new anti-espionage campaign aimed at rooting out foreign spooks.
Public security officials said in a statement that they hoped to use ordinary citizens to erect a Great Wall that would help protect China from traitors and spies.
As Chinas political and cultural capital, Beijing had become the favourite destination for overseas spy agencies and other hostile forces [hoping to] engage in infiltration, subversion, division, destruction and the theft of information, the statement claimed.
Engaging the masses in the fight against such provocateurs was a magic weapon with which to claim victory over the enemy.
According to a translation of the new regulation by the China Law Translate blog, would-be whistleblowers have three ways of delivering their intelligence about possible spies.
They can report them by telephone by calling a dedicated hotline on 12339, post them to Number 9 Qianmen East Avenue, Beijing, or visit the same address for a chat.
Citizens who provide information that plays an especially major role in preventing or stopping espionage conduct will be paid between 100,000 and 500,000 yuan.
Informants will have 90 days to collect any rewards granted and can request protection if they feel their findings have put them or their families at risk.
The issue of national security has rocketed up Chinas political agenda since Xi Jinping became the countrys top leader in 2012. We are confronted with increasing threats and challenges, Xi warned in a 2014 speech to senior Communist party officials in which he claimed infiltration and sabotage activities were being carried out by domestic and foreign hostile forces.
Xi has ordered the creation of a national security commission modelled on the US National Security Council and introduced a national security law that activists claim gives Beijing sweeping powers to crack down on opponents.
China has even introduced a national security education day, which is used to raise awareness about the perils of agents, agitators and spooks.
Last year the government launched Dangerous Love, an anti-spy propaganda campaign designed to alert Chinese women to the threat of being seduced by dashing double agents who were really only interested in stealing state secrets.
Additional reporting by Wang Zhen