BEIJING: A Chinese man was arrested for selling pictures of an aircraft carrier base to a foreign spy, the latest young Internet user to be targeted by overseas intelligence agencies, media said.
The man, who was surnamed Cao, was detained in the eastern port city of Qingdao in April with a camera, telescope, computer and “other tools”, state broadcaster China Central Television said.
Cao told Chinese security officials he was selling the pictures to an individual who claimed to be a “military magazine editor”, CCTV said on its website Saturday.
“The ‘editor-in-chief’ is actually an overseas spy, whom state security organs have long paid attention to,” the report said.
“He has several identifies online, such as editor of a news magazine agency and official-in-charge of a counselling company.”
The report also said Cao had sneaked into a military airport earlier this year to take pictures for his contact, who would pay a “generous premium”.
Cao, who works for a “large company”, was contacted online after he posted his CV on the Internet, the report said, adding that he is “awaiting trial”.
“It is not a rare case,” CCTV said, citing unnamed security officials.
“In recent years, there is an increasing number of young internet users, like Cao, who have been lured and taken orders from overseas spy agencies when they are looking for jobs and friends online.”
In May, a Chinese snack bar owner was jailed for 10 years for disclosing military secrets including documents and photographs of equipment to “foreign intelligence agencies”, state media said.
The suspect, who was from the southern province of Guangdong, was approached online by “a foreign spy” with the username “Feige” — “flying brother” in Chinese — the official Xinhua news agency has reported.
Beijing announced a double-digit rise in its defence budget in March and has rapidly expanded its military in recent years, rattling its neighbours and attracting the attention of the US, which is making a foreign policy “pivot” towards Asia.
President Xi Jinping has made security concerns a top issue.
Earlier this month, state media reported that China adopted a new counter-espionage law aimed at a “more comprehensive state security”.
“Xi stressed that the challenges China faces in maintaining national security today are more diverse than they have ever been, as it has seen complicated internal and external situations,” the report said.
China last year set up a new national security commission, which observers said would have parallels with the US National Security Council.