The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) voices concern over the latest government scheme introduced on April 10, which may endanger the media community.On Monday, the Beijing-based National Security Bureau announced the anti-espionage scheme, ‘Report on Espionage’, in its latest attempt to influence and censor the free flow of information in China. The scheme aims to use citizens as the eyes and ears of the government, asking them to report any suspicious activity to the Bureau. By participating in the program, citizens would be eligible for monetary rewards, with a successful ‘tip offs’ able to receive between 10,000 and 500,000 yuan (USD 1,500 – 73,000).According to Mainland reports, the National Security Bureau alleges that some of the espionage activities are taking place within foreign non-government organisations. The Bureau believes that members of these organisations are attempting the obtained state secrets and influence Chinese officials. According to Beijing Daily, the Bureau said: “several espionage activities are taking place, illegal mapping, taking photos and so on.”The IFJ Asia Pacific office said: “We understand and respect the right of each country for its own security; however security measures cannot impinge on the rights of citizens. Activities such as collecting information and taking pictures are basic activities for journalists. If these are activities are now seen as espionage, then this new scheme is simply an attempt by the government to control and repress press freedom”Several Chinese journalists have expressed deep concern about the scheme, which they said only serves to exacerbate the risks that journalists currently face.We are asking Chen Wenqing, Minister of National Security Bureau of China to review the ‘Report on Espionage’ scheme and respect human rights, including press freedom.
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