China Warns of Foreign Espionage Threat

China Warns of Foreign Espionage Threat

Liu Wei
2 min read

China Warns Citizens of Overseas Espionage Threat

In a recent cautionary announcement, China's Ministry of State Security has raised an alarm about foreign spy agencies targeting Chinese citizens working abroad in complex endeavors to pilfer high-tech industrial secrets. The ministry highlighted that overseas workers, who may feel isolated and vulnerable in a foreign land, are being singled out in a three-phase ploy, commencing as a cordial relationship and gradually progressing into an effort to cultivate trust through social interactions. Once a sense of trust is established, individuals are coerced or deceived into divulging state secrets. This warning is indicative of the Chinese government's heightened global presence, and its dissemination of alerts through social media about espionage and underwater spyware. It is worth noting that in 2019, China sentenced an overseas worker to death for purloining and selling state secrets over a period of several years.

Key Takeaways

  • China cautions its citizens working overseas of targeted campaigns by foreign spy agencies to abscond with high-tech industrial secrets.
  • Overseas workers may be susceptible due to isolation and are targeted through a three-phase campaign which begins as amicable interactions.
  • Once trust is established, targets are manipulated or bamboozled into divulging state secrets, with repercussions such as death penalties.
  • China's amplified overseas involvement through the Belt and Road Initiative has resulted in a rise in targeted espionage endeavors.
  • The Ministry of State Security consistently disseminates warnings via social media about various forms of espionage and underwater spyware.


China's warning regarding foreign espionage efforts aimed at overseas workers indicates an escalation in the vigilance against industrial espionage, potentially impacting multinational corporations and their mobile workforces. This development may exacerbate tensions in the tech sector and prompt increased investment in cybersecurity measures. In the immediate future, heightened surveillance and scrutiny of cross-border collaborations can be anticipated. In the long term, this could lead to a splintered global tech industry, as countries bolster protectionist policies to safeguard critical technologies. The expansion of the Belt and Road Initiative may expose more Chinese workers to these threats, affecting diplomatic relations and international business partnerships.

Did You Know?

  • Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): A global development strategy introduced by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in infrastructure development and foster trade links between China and other countries, primarily in Asia, Africa, and Europe. BRI has led to an increased overseas involvement by China, resulting in a surge of targeted espionage attempts to pilfer high-tech industrial secrets.
  • Ministry of State Security (MSS): China's principal intelligence agency responsible for counterintelligence, foreign intelligence, and political security. MSS frequently issues warnings via social media about various forms of espionage and underwater spyware, reflective of China's mounting apprehensions regarding industrial espionage and national security threats.
  • High-tech Industrial Secrets: Proprietary information and technological expertise that confer a competitive advantage in specific industries, such as advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, or quantum computing. These secrets are of great interest to foreign spy agencies seeking an economic or military edge over their rivals, often resulting in intricate campaigns targeting Chinese citizens working overseas.

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