China has stepped up its campaign against foreign espionage with a website in Mandarin and English encouraging people to report national security threats such as bids to “overthrow the socialist system”.

The website, 12339.gov.cn, launched by the Ministry of National Security on Sunday, also urges anyone to report attempts by Chinese nationals or foreigners to bribe state or military officials, instigate armed riots or incite ethnic separatism.

Potential problematic behaviour includes foreigners meeting “any person within China who has conducted activities endangering state security or is strongly suspected of doing so” – raising concerns that any interaction with dissidents would be frowned upon.

Informants will be rewarded for discovering espionage equipment or for tip-offs on anyone suspected of buying or selling state secrets, according to the website, which allows users to lodge complaints in both Chinese and English.

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The website did not offer details on the rewards. The Beijing City National Security Bureau was offering 10,000 to 500,000 yuan (US$1,600 to US$79,700) for information on spies, the official Beijing Daily reported last April.

The ministry also released a cartoon, titled “a friend with a mask”, to illustrate possible questionable behaviour, as part of its campaign to mark China’s National Security Education Day, which fell on Sunday.

The cartoon tells the story of a foreigner from an international non-governmental organisation, who is promoting “Western-style” workers’ rights in China.

‘Grandpa, what are spies?’ Cartoon urges Chinese children to be on alert

The foreigner allegedly “bribes” a Chinese representative to organise seminars and mobilise workers to stand up for their rights. According to the cartoon, such public protests are illegal and a vigilant worker reports the foreigner behind “the unrest”.

In 2016, another series of cartoons published by the ministry warned Chinese nationals against entering into romantic relationships with foreigners, since this could be a possible means of eliciting state secrets.

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