Chinese citizens can get rewards of more than 100,000 yuan (£12,000/US$15,000) and special certificates for tip-offs on breaches of national security under measures introduced this week, state media has reported.
Rewards for exposing foreign spies or other security violations have existed for years in China. The new measures, according to a state media outlet, are aimed at standardising rewards and motivating the public at a time of intensifying “threats” from foreign intelligence agencies and other quarters.
“The formulation of the measures is conducive to fully mobilising the enthusiasm of the general public to support and assist in national security work, widely rallying the hearts, morale, wisdom and strength of the people,” the ministry representative said, according to the Legal Daily.
Citizens could get “spiritual rewards”, in the form of certificates, or “material rewards” of cash from 10,000 yuan to more than 100,000 yuan, depending on the value of the tip-off, the ministry said in a notice.
State security agencies would check the report to see if it was true and whether it offered new information before deciding on the reward, it said.
People could lodge reports through a hotline or website, by post, in person, or any other way. When more than one person offered the same tip, the one who reported it first would be first in line for a reward but others could also qualify.
China is already accused of using Orwellian levels of surveillance against its own citizens. Under its “social credit” system, people can be blacklisted for transgressions such as smoking on trains, using expired tickets or failing to pay fines, as well as spreading false information or causing trouble on flights.
Citizens with high credit scores can access better hotels, rental homes and even schools; while those with low credit scores can be temporarily or permanently banned from taking planes or trains, as happened to 6.15 million people in 2017, on the government’s own figures.
The big-data system for monitoring and shaping business and citizens’ behaviour is also reaching beyond China’s borders to impact foreign companies, according to research by the ASPI International Cyber Policy Institute in Canberra. It claims the system has shaped the behaviour of foreign businesses in line with Chinese Communist party preferences, showing its potential to interfere directly in the sovereignty of other nations.