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Foreign spies lure Chinese students / by Zhang Rui, May 9, 2014 Adjust font size:

China's security department has discovered overseas intelligence agencies are using the Internet and money to lure Chinese students to steal state secrets.

In a case made public by the Guangdong provincial security department on May 4, a suspect surnamed Li was sentenced to jail for 10 years. According to authorities, this intelligence agency has exploited Chinese students a number of times in recent years by using money and the Internet. Many students were asking for a job or just chatting in a chat room and were lured into the trap and started to send information.

Xu Peng, a student in Guangdong Province, was one example. When he was enrolled in a provincial level key university in April 2012, he sent out a help message in instant messaging groups. Xu's family is from the poor rural areas and he was asking for tuition fees of 2,000 yuan (US$ 321.044 ).

Soon afterwards, a person under the ID "Miss Q" asked for Xu's name, cell phone number, university and his major, then she said she was willing to help. Xu got 2,000 yuan the next day and knew the person who transferred the money was a "researcher of an investment consulting company." But "Miss Q" said she needed to collect periodical information about the People's Liberation Army (PLA) equipment purchases for her client and hoped Xu could help in return for the tuition money. Xu failed his first mission in the university's library but Miss Q never forced him.

When Xu started his internship he found the job "hard, tiring and not profitable," so he contacted Miss Q in May 2012 again and he was assigned a "new job," which was to film, observe, and record a military port and ship building factory. Then he sent the map showing the military ships to Miss Q, who would download the files from overseas.

Xu, 23, was arrested a year later. He admitted after he got the job he realized the person was a spy but he could not resist the money.

Sources in the security department who did not want to share their names told the Global Times that the agencies only contacted students initially for simple missions like going through some documents and trade magazines in a library. Then they used money to make young students rely on or even become addicted to the rewards and ask for more. Most students were aware of the true identities of the agents but some would terminate the relationship, and others would either be intimidated or comply in order to get money.

In another case, after a university student found a seemly prosperous part time job, he sent academic information about China's spaceflight, aviation, ships and weapons to two spies named Gina and Robby and helped them get internal academic periodicals.

In Guangdong, the spy Brother Fei used Internet bookstore and military fan clubs to buy off 12 people there and 40 people in another 20 provinces and cities. The Global Times learned from authorities that the intelligence agency Fei worked for has targeted university students in their 20s. The jobs are usually collecting information. Even the information is worthless; the students will also get handsome money.

The overseas spies also have a long-term training program. In second half of 2012, Song Fei put up his CV on a human resources website. In December, a "researcher" named Li Hua recruited him and asked him to research and write reports on China's central government policies.

Song then researched 10 projects and collected information from the school library, periodical database and academic lectures. Song was also encouraged by Li to build up connections with scholars and members of think tanks with a government background. The "public relations" fees were on the bill of Li's company. Song then started to prepare for the civil servant exams to get a higher level government post, and receive more inside intelligence information.

In some of the worst cases of this kind, there were more students involved. In 2009, four students in one university in Chengdu conspired to steal information for foreign spies and made more than 40,000 yuan.

However, according to authorities, most Chinese students involved could not get to the core information and didn't do too much harm. China's security department also tried to help and educate the students who made their mistakes and protect the children from being exploited by spies.

In 2011, a 16-year-old suspect tried to steal government and military internal documents, and after he was arrested, the sentence was as light as was allowed by law, considering his young age and the bright future he might have, the sources from the security department told the Global Times.

"But any hidden loopholes must be erased, no matter how big or small they are," said the official from the security department. "The national security is like air, which is related to everyone, so everyone must pay attention."

All the names in this article are aliases

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