China ramps up espionage warnings in new security push

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is ramping up its warnings against espionage in a week of activities to mark the passing of a National Security Law last year, with state media giving rare details of spy cases and a cartoon campaign saying it is risky to date foreigners.

President Xi Jinping has overseen a sweeping revamp of China's security apparatus, aimed at combating both domestic and foreign threats.

New security laws have alarmed Western governments amidst a renewed crackdown on dissent in a country where state secret rules are notoriously broad.

Since last Friday, when China marked its first national security education day, the government has released reports in state media giving unusual insight into people caught spying for foreigners.

In the latest case, revealed late on Wednesday (April 20), state television described events leading up to the jailing for seven years of a man who gave information to an unidentified foreign power about Chinese military and other ships patrolling islets in the East China Sea disputed with Japan.

The man, identified as Chen Wei, from the east coast province of Zhejiang, had studied abroad and was recruited while working overseas, state television said, in its second report this week on people jailed for security-related crimes.

Chen's recruiter, Ji Tian, whose nationality was not specified, roped him in by initially feigning an interest in Christianity and saying he also wanted to learn Chinese, the report said.

While not directly mentioning any country, state television showed pictures of Japan in its report, and included a reconstruction of the two meeting in a restaurant and being served by a woman in a traditional Japanese kimono.

Ji used their growing friendship to ask Chen to take pictures of harbours in Zhejiang - which lies close to the disputed and uninhabited islands, called the Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.

Chen was caught in December 2013 after taking pictures of a military base and sentenced to seven years in jail, the report said, without saying when he was sentenced.

"As more and more of our countrymen work and study abroad, it is vital to raise awareness of the enemy's situation," state television said.

As part of the security campaign, cartoon posters entitled"Dangerous Love" have also begun appearing around Beijing warning people to be aware when dating foreigners.

In the posters, a young lady is seduced by "Da Wei", or David, who woos her to get access to secret documents she has. He then vanishes and she is carted away by police as an accessory to spying.