Cartoon posters put on display by the Chinese government to mark National Security Education Day on April 15 warn young female government workers about dating "handsome foreign men" who could turn out to be spies.
In the comic, a 16-panel cartoon poster entitled "Dangerous Love," dashing and handsome foreigner "David" tempts attractive but naive government employee "Xiao Li" into revealing state secrets. She first meets the red-haired foreign man at a dinner party, and the two begin a relationship soon after. Eventually, David not-so-subtly asks her to share secret government files from her job. Smitten with David and blinded by his charms, Xiao Li eventually agrees, after which David vanishes into thin air.The China Internet Information Center summed up the story of the propaganda poster. The complete comic and a panel-by-panel English translation can be seen on Russia Today.
"The man, David, claims to be a student, but he's actually a foreign spy who butters Xiao Li up with compliments on her beauty, flowers, fancy dinners and romantic walks in the park. After Xiao Li provides David with internal documents from her job at a government propaganda office, the two are arrested. In one of the poster's final panels, Xiao Li is shown sitting handcuffed before two policemen, who tell her she has a 'shallow understanding of secrecy for a state employee.'"While it may sound like the plot of a James Bond movie, it appears Beijing is taking the matter very seriously.
As RT reports, the comic warns against committing "crimes endangering national security," and that charges can be brought forth if a person "steals, secretly gathers, purchases, or illegally provides state secrets or intelligence for an organization, institution, or personnel outside the country."
"Dangerous Love" has appeared on government bulletin boards, distributed to many rank-and-file government employees, and was displayed in the residential city of Xicheng to raise awareness of alleged Western espionage in China. The campaign is designed to instruct Chinese women, particularly those in civil service, not to be fooled by foreign men's good looks and remain vigilant.A Beijing district government official was quoted by The Guardian as saying they would continue to display the poster in order to educate its employees on counter-espionage. The goal is to encourage civil servants to "keeping classified information confidential and reporting to state security agencies if they spot any spying activity."
"As more and more of our countrymen work and study abroad, it is vital to raise awareness of the enemy's situation," state television said, according to the Telegraph.
However, the poster has raised a few eyebrows abroad, as critics see it as the Chinese government telling the country's young women that it's risky to date foreigners.
The People's Republic of China seems to be escalating its hostile rhetoric against "hostile foreign forces" and the threat of espionage. This new poster comes out at a time when the state is passing new national security measures and initiating a crackdown on dissent. As well, the definition of "state secrets" in China remains notoriously broad, and people convicted of such crimes can be jailed for up to 10 years, or if particularly serious, for life.
The inaugural National Security Education Day this year was meant to mark the passing of a National Security Law last year by educating its people about national security. Speeches were delivered and materials in the spirit of "Dangerous Love" were distributed.
[AP Photo/Ng Han Guan]