China student sold 'intelligence' for $40,000: Xinhua

BEIJING (AFP) - A student in China has been detained for selling "intelligence" to foreigners for more than US$32,000 (S$40,000), state media said Wednesday in the country's latest espionage accusation.

The student, surnamed Chang, is an aerospace graduate student at Harbin University in northeast China's Heilongjiang province, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Police on Tuesday authorised the arrest of Chang, who was found to have "gathered intelligence" for "foreign personnel" more than 50 times over nearly two years, according to Xinhua.

The news agency said that Chang received more than 200,000 yuan (S$40,000) in return. The nationality of the foreigners involved was not given.

"The case reflects the fact that the 'black hand' of foreign intelligence agencies has been extended to college students," Xinhua said.

China regularly says it is a victim of espionage, but Beijing has stepped up the pace in recent weeks.

On Tuesday, Chinese authorities announced that they are investigating a Canadian Christian couple for alleged espionage, a week after Ottawa accused Beijing of cyber-spying.

The couple, Kevin Garratt and Julia Dawn Garratt, "are suspected of gathering and stealing intelligence materials about, among other things, China's military objectives and important national defence research projects", China's foreign ministry said.

Last month, US technology giant Apple came under fire when state-run media said that the iPhone threatened national security through its ability to track and time-stamp a user's location. Apple strongly denied the accusation.

In April, the FBI released a lengthy online video warning young Americans studying abroad to be on guard against efforts by Chinese officials to draft them into espionage.

The dramatic video - which was mocked by China's state-run Global Times newspaper as "amateurish" - told the story of Glenn Duffie Shriver, an American student who was sentenced to four years in prison for conspiring to provide national defence information to Beijing.

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