Security authorities in Jilin Province have cracked an espionage case in which a foreigner tried to spy on military installations in a local county, China National Defense, a newspaper affiliated with the PLA Daily, reported on Thursday.
The "suspicious-looking" man was spotted "sneaking" around with a telescope by a local farmer in Changbai county of Jilin at the end of October. The police soon found and interrogated the suspect, who possessed a foreign passport, a high-powered telescope and a camera with photos of several military installations, the newspaper said.
Security authorities also found a hand-drawn map of frontline forces in a pocket of his underwear, the report said, adding that the man was later identified as a spy attempting to steal military information.
The nationality of the man was not disclosed.
"The public's lack of awareness is the biggest problem in counterespionage," a local security official told China National Defense. "Safeguarding the country's safety, especially carrying out counterespionage activities, should not only depend on national security defense organizations, but also requires the mobilization of our whole society and the enhancement of their consciousness."
On November 1, Jilin launched a counterespionage hotline through which citizens can report suspected espionage cases, the Jilin-based New Cultural Newspaper reported.
"The reasons for the occurrences of espionage activities in Jilin are twofold. First, the northeastern regions of China, including Jilin, are home to important military bases and the country's military industrial base. Second, the province is located on the China-North Korea border, a sensitive area that has attracted worldwide attention," Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times.
Song added that the development of tourism in the region has also given criminals a chance to enter Chinese territory to steal information on the pretext of sightseeing.
According to China National Defense, three Japanese spies were caught in China recently, two of whom confessed that they were entrusted with missions by Japan's Public Security Intelligence Agency.
China adopted the Counterespionage Law in 2014 stipulating that foreign organizations and individuals conducting espionage activities or instigating and sponsoring others conducting them will be punished, Xinhua reported.