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China Reform Monitor - No. 1327

New study takes aim at PLA corruption;
Beijing warns: be wary of foreign spies

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
May 11, 2018

April 6

A systematic study of the PLA by Ding Xueliang at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has identified how a lack of transparency in military spending has produced egregious corruption. When military funding is constantly on the rise – 1.1 trillion yuan ($175 billion) for 2018, a year-on-year increase of 8.1% – working for the PLA means secure and profitable employment with zero risk of having to fight. "You don’t have to die for your country; quite the opposite, you can milk the taxpayers' money, intended to keep the country safe. When conducting field studies in China back in the late 1990s, I heard from retired soldiers that PLA posts were always up for grabs to the highest bidder. Later I obtained a detailed 'price list' for specific jobs and ranks in the army, ranging from a company commander to an infantry division chief," Ding wrote. China's military spending audit is cosmetic, since no third-party examiner could keep track of all the accounts,
the Asia Times reports.

April 10:

Toutiao, a popular news and content portal, was forced to pull its joke sharing "Neihan Duanzi" app after China's State Administration of Radio and Television said it included "vulgar and improper content." The move comes amid a clampdown on all online content, from livestreams and blogs to mobile gaming,
Reuters reports. Authorities ordered the app to be taken down permanently for promoting low values that had "caused strong disgust amongst netizens." In a public letter titled "Apology and Introspection," Toutiao founder Zhang Yiming pledged to keep its content wholesome by raising the number of in-house censors (i.e., content auditors) from 6000 to 10,000. "This product walked the wrong path and had content in deviation of socialist core values," he wrote.

April 13:

The Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange (CSCSE) under the Ministry of Education announced on April 8th that it will name and shame those found lying about their academic credentials. The CSCSE website has posted a blacklist containing 202 people caught claiming they graduated from overseas universities but were found to have submitted fake, fabricated or invalid materials while applying for authentication; another 72 people were given a dishonest record for providing fake degree certificates,
the official Global Times reports. People on the list face serious consequences in their ability to access certain public services.

April 15:

The Ministry of State Security, State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense and China Aerospace Science and Industry Cooperation (CASIC) has disseminated a set of caricatures marking China's third National Security Education Day to warn workers in defense-related industries to watch for foreign spies. The caricatures, titled "A 'friend' with a mask," were dispersed to all national defense technology related industries to teach workers how to detect foreign espionage activities. They describe a foreigner who claims to be from an NGO and bribes a Chinese to organize seminars to promote “western-style” workers’ rights in China. He gets the Chinese representative to tell workers to defend their rights by organizing a labor union and expressing their needs through protests,
the official Global Times reports.

April 16:

To oppose foreign espionage, China has created a website to allow people to report national security threats such as bids to "overthrow the socialist system. The website,, launched by the Ministry of National Security, urges anyone to report attempts by Chinese nationals or foreigners to bribe state or military officials, instigate armed riots or incite ethnic separatism. Potential problematic behavior includes foreigners meeting "any person within China who has conducted activities endangering state security or is strongly suspected of doing so. Informants are rewarded for tip-offs on anyone suspected of buying or selling state secrets, according to the website, which allows users to lodge complaints in both Chinese and English. The Beijing City National Security Bureau offers 10,000 to 500,000 yuan ($1500 to $73,000) for information on spies,
The Japan News reports.

Related Categories: China; China and East Asia Program

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