Beijing offers big bucks for foreign spy tip-offs

The Chinese public can report suspected espionage through a special hotline, by mail or in person. (AFP)
Updated 10 April 2017

Beijing offers big bucks for foreign spy tip-offs

BEIJING: Budding Chinese sleuths could start stalking foreigners as suspected spies in Beijing after authorities in the city on Monday offered a cash bonanza for information on overseas agents.
Members of the public can report suspected espionage through a special hotline, by mail or in person and will be rewarded with up to 500,000 yuan ($72,460) in compensation if their intelligence is deemed useful.
The average annual wage in Beijing in 2015 was 85,000 yuan ($12,300), according to the most recent data available from the city government.
“Citizens play an important role in spy investigations,” said a statement from the city’s security bureau, in the latest sign of concern about foreign agents in the capital.
Cartoon posters began appearing in Beijing public offices last spring warning Chinese women against falling for the romantic wiles of foreign men with undercover motives.
A 16-panel poster titled “Dangerous Love” showed a blossoming relationship between a Chinese government worker named Xiao Li and a visiting scholar, “David.”
Their thwarted happy ending takes the form of a visit to the police station when the pair is arrested after Xiao Li gives David secret internal documents from her government workplace.
The new incentives for whistleblowers will be implemented ahead of China’s second annual National Security Education Day on April 15.
Sources can choose to remain anonymous and request police protection for themselves and their relatives.
Those who deliberately provide false information will be punished, the security bureau said.
The Beijing Morning Post wrote on Monday that the “extensive mobilization of the masses” will contribute to the construction of an “anti-spy steel Great Wall.”
The newspaper reported that a fisherman in eastern Jiangsu province received a “heavy” reward after notifying the authorities of a suspicious device in the water bearing a “foreign language.”
The device was being used to collect data for a foreign party, according to the Beijing Morning Post.
The Chinese government often declares threats from “hostile foreign forces” as a justification for censorship and crackdowns on civil society.
Peter Dahlin, a Swedish human rights activist operating out of Beijing, was detained for 23 days and then expelled from the country in January 2016 for allegedly posing a threat to national security.
Dahlin’s group offered training to lawyers who have tried to use the tightly-controlled judiciary to redress apparent government abuses.
The most recent national census, held in 2010, recorded 600,000 expats living in China.


White House rejects participation in ‘baseless’ impeachment probe against Trump

Updated 35 min 57 sec ago

White House rejects participation in ‘baseless’ impeachment probe against Trump

  • The House Judiciary Committee is to meet starting Monday to review the evidence from investigators and decide whether to charge Trump with abuse of power, bribery and obstruction
WASHINGTON: The White House blasted the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump as “completely baseless” Friday, signaling it would not seek to defend the president in Democratic-led hearings to draw up formal charges against him.
But Republicans demanded that Joe Biden’s son Hunter, the lawmaker leading the impeachment probe Adam Schiff, and the whistleblower at the origin of the inquiry all testify next week before the House Judiciary Committee.
“As you know, your impeachment inquiry is completely baseless and has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness,” White House chief lawyer Pat Cipollone wrote in a letter to the committee chair, Jerry Nadler.
“House Democrats have wasted enough of America’s time with this charade. You should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings,” he wrote.
Cipollone issued the letter minutes before a deadline to declare whether the White House would deploy representatives to defend Trump against accusations he abused his office by pressuring Ukraine to find dirt on former vice president Biden, his potential challenger in the 2020 election.
Nadler’s committee is to meet starting Monday to review the evidence from investigators and decide whether to charge Trump with abuse of power, bribery and obstruction.
Those charges could become articles of impeachment sent to the full House to vote on within weeks.
If they pass the Democratic-led House as expected, it would make Trump only the third president in US history to be impeached.
That would set up a trial next month in the Republican-controlled Senate, seen as likely to acquit him.
Trump is accused of pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open investigations into Biden and his son, and also into a widely-dismissed theory that Ukraine helped Democrats in the 2016 election.
The US leader is accused of demanding Zelensky announce the investigations in exchange for the release of military aid and a high-profile summit — which Democrats say constitutes bribery.
Democrats also say Trump’s actions amount to soliciting foreign interference in American elections — which is barred by US laws.
Trump denies any wrongdoing but has refused to cooperate with the inquiry, citing his privilege as president to prevent top aides from testifying.
Cipollone told Nadler in the letter that adopting articles of impeachment “would be a reckless abuse of power” and constitute “the most unjust, highly partisan, and unconstitutional attempt at impeachment in our nation’s history.”

Blocking 'key evidence'
He repeated Trump’s tweet of Thursday: “If you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our country can get back to business.”
In a statement Nadler accused Trump of continuing to block “key evidence” from Congress.
“We gave President Trump a fair opportunity to question witnesses and present his own to address the overwhelming evidence before us,” Nadler said.
“If the President has no good response to the allegations, then he would not want to appear before the committee. Having declined this opportunity, he cannot claim that the process is unfair.”
Meanwhile the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Doug Collins, announced a list of witnesses his camp wishes to subpoena “to provide context and transparency about the underlying facts at issue.”
Besides Schiff, the list includes Hunter Biden and his business partner Devon Archer, who both sat on the board of a Ukraine energy company Burisma, which Trump allegedly pressured Zelensky to investigate.
Also included were the whistleblower, believed to be a CIA analyst who reported his concerns about Trump’s demands of Zelensky; possible government contacts of the whistleblower; White House national security official Alexander Vindman, whose earlier testimony strongly supported the allegations against Trump.
With the exception of Vindman, there was little likelihood Nadler would accept the witness list.