China’s highly secretive civilian spy agency has launched a public account on a major social media platform to call on “all members of society” to join its fight against espionage, offering rewards and protection for those who provide information.
The Ministry of State Security oversees intelligence and counterintelligence both within China and overseas. Its remit has encouraged analogies to a combined CIA and FBI, but is far more secretive about its work – without even a public website describing its activities.
But on Monday it launched an account on WeChat, the hugely popular social messaging app that boasts more than 1 billion users. A day later, the account published its first post.
Titled “Countering espionage requires the mobilization of all members of society,” the ministry said national security bodies should keep reporting channels, such as hotlines and online platforms, open to handle reports of suspected espionage within China in a timely manner.
“Enhance the mechanism for reporting espionage by legally commending, rewarding and protecting individuals and organizations who report espionage,” it added, “so as to normalize the mechanism for the people to participate in counter-espionage work.”
It also said it is the mission of “national bodies, civic groups and commercial enterprises” to implement anti-espionage measures, adding that the government and “heads of industries” should take responsibility.
For years, Chinese authorities have encouraged the public to inform on suspected foreign spies and their Chinese collaborators through propaganda and incentive campaigns.
But those efforts have gathered pace under Xi Jinping, China’s most assertive and authoritarian leader in a generation who has made state security his top priority.
Officials and state media have long pushed the narrative that China is under grave, constant threat from “hostile foreign forces,” who are supposedly seeking to infiltrate and undermine the country, a message that has been further turbocharged as relations with Western powers have soured.
Counter-espionage law expansion
The security ministry’s debut WeChat post cited new amendments to a counter-espionage law passed by China’s rubber-stamp legislature earlier this year, which came into effect on July 1.
It said news outlets, broadcasters, television stations, the culture sector and internet providers should also take part in anti-espionage education.
China passed a sweeping counter-espionage law in 2014, which some experts said was already “ambiguous and powerful”. But it updated the law in April to cast a wider net.
The latest amendments expanded the definition of espionage from covering state secrets and intelligence to any “documents, data, materials or items related to national security and interests,” without specifying specific parameters for how these terms are defined.
Cyber attacks targeting China’s key information infrastructure in connection with spy agencies are also categorized as espionage under the new changes.
The move has sparked worries among analysts over its potential impact on foreign companies, journalists and academics, which could face further legal risks and uncertainty for their work.
Before the law came into effect earlier this year, Chinese authorities closed the Beijing office of Mintz Group, an American corporate due diligence firm, and detained five local staff.
US consultancy Bain & Company also said in April that Chinese police had questioned staff at its Shanghai office.
Meanwhile, Japan has demanded the release of a Japanese employee of Astellas Pharma who was detained in Beijing in March for suspected espionage.
Previous anti-spying drive
There have been multiple previous calls by China for the public to look for potential spies.
In June last year, China announced “material rewards” of up to and above 100,000 yuan ($15,000) for tip-offs about people who endanger national security.
For those who came forward with less significant intelligence, authorities will present them with “spiritual rewards” in certificates instead.
A campaign in 2016 famously used a 16-panel comic book-style poster found all over the capital of Beijing.
The poster told the fictional tale of a young female civil servant – Xiao Li or Little Li – who was wooed by a red-haired foreigner posing as a visiting scholar.
The scholar, named Dawei or David, showered her with compliments, roses, fancy dinners and romantic walks in the park, and convinced the woman to provide him with internal documents from her government propaganda workplace.
The story ended with Xiao Li being taken away by security officials and discovering that her boyfriend was a foreign spy.
Elon Musk’s X Slapped With Trademark Lawsuit From Social Media Ad Agency
That ad agency, X Social Media, sued X. Corp in Florida on Monday, arguing that consumers are likely to to confused their ad services with the Elon Musk
The complaint, which was first reported by Bloomberg Law, states that X Social Media, LLC “has continuously used the X Social Media Mark in commerce since at least early 2016,” and that the Elon Musk-owned company was aware of X Social Media’s pre-existing rights to the trademark its brand overhaul.
In the filing, X Social Media — an advertising agency service geared towards law firms — claims that it has invested over $400 million in advertising, $2 million of which was dedicated to brand awareness, and that X. Corp’s name change will be “financially and strategically harmful” to the Florida-based agency.
“In a short time, X Corp. has wielded its social media clout, marketing resources, and overall national notoriety to dominate consumer perception of its ‘X’ mark,” the complaint states.
It is seeking an order that would block X Corp. from continuing to use the X name and requested an unspecified amount of money damages.
Elsewhere on Monday, Musk was also sued for libel after falsely claiming Ben Brody, 22, a recent graduate of the University of Riverside, California, was a government agent posing as a neo-Nazi. The lawsuit accused the billionaire of making “reckless false statements” and “promotion of disinformation,” and seeks $1 million in damages.
Texas firm Farrar & Ball attorney Mark Bankston, Brody’s legal counsel, wrote in an X post that Brody and his family were doxxed as a result of the conspiracy theory Musk promoted on his site, and had to flee their home during “weeks of terror.” Brody, he wrote, has a reputation now “catastrophically damaged” by the wealthiest man on the planet and has suffered mental anguish “at the crucial moment when he exits college and enters his career path.”
Despite his lawyers being informed of Brody’s defamation claim in August, Bankston has said that Musk declined to either retract his unfounded accusation or apologize for it.
Sources – James Harden, seeking trade, not at 76ers media day
CAMDEN, N.J. — It took nearly four minutes Monday morning for Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey to say James Harden‘s name. But, after rattling off the names of several other players and speaking confidently about the team’s chances to contend this season, Morey turned to the matter of Harden’s absence from media day.
“I want to address James Harden,” Morey said, sitting on a dais next to coach Nick Nurse, both wearing matching blue blazers to kick off the interviews. “He’s not here today. He continues to seek a trade, and we’re working with his representation to resolve that in the best way for the 76ers and, hopefully, all parties.”
Harden’s decision not to come Monday was the latest push in a summer full of them to fulfill his desire to be dealt to the LA Clippers. But although the two teams have talked recently, there’s been no traction on a deal, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Sixers’ asking price remains high, and the Clippers don’t seem inclined to bid against themselves in a marketplace that is cool to unloading significant trade assets for Harden, sources told Wojnarowski.
As a result, Harden is still a member of the 76ers — and the franchise clearly would love for him to return and help in what the 76ers still believe is a group good enough to compete for a championship, even in the wake of the moves the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics made to get Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday, respectively, over the past few days.
“Who said they surpassed us?” reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid responded to a reporter. “We still gotta go out there and compete. You can do whatever you want off the court, but you still gotta go out there and put the ball in the hoop.
“I believe that any team that I’m on, we always gonna have a chance. Just need to be a little bit lucky. Just need to stay healthy — be healthy and stay healthy — and, you know, as a team, just come together.”
Harden exercised his $35.6 million contract option for the season in June with hopes of the Sixers trading him before camp, but Morey has shown a willingness to wait out Harden and try to get him reinvested in the team.
To that end, the message over and over again from the 76ers was that they hope they can get Harden to come back and take part alongside them. Harden on Friday was paid the 25% of his contract that he was scheduled to receive by Sunday, sources said, after already having received the 25% payment he was scheduled to receive on July 1.
It remains unclear when, or if, Harden is going to rejoin the team, which is flying to Fort Collins on Monday afternoon before holding training camp at Colorado State University for the next several days.
Morey, when asked if Harden would be fined for missing Monday, said the team would “treat James like every other player on the roster as required by the CBA.”
In a call with league and union officials during the NBA’s investigation into the comments, Harden insisted he would be fulfilling his contractual obligations with the Sixers should he remain without a trade, sources said.
Morey, who has previously had a close relationship with Harden going back to when he acquired him as the general manage of the Houston Rockets from the Oklahoma City Thunder just before the start of the 2012-13 NBA season, admitted this summer was difficult for him given how it’s all played out in the public sphere.
“I would say it was hard,” Morey said. “I think there are many people who worked with him for some time, but I’ve been right there with anyone else.
“Look, I think he’s a heck of a basketball player. I like him as a person. It was hard, I think, that he felt like that was the right course of action for him at that point. What else can I say? I think he’s a tremendous player that will help us if he chooses to be here. And, right now, that’s not where he wants to be.”
Morey did, however, push back on Harden’s assertion that he is a liar.
“I don’t think I have to interpret it,” Morey said. “He said what he meant. I think that was well reported on.
“I haven’t responded to that because I think it falls flat on its face. In 20 years of working in the league, always followed through on everything. Every top agent knows that. Everyone in the league knows. You can’t operate in this job without that. So, you know, privately I’ve appreciated all the key people in the league reaching out to me and knowing obviously that’s not true. But like I said before, obviously it was disappointing that he chose to handle it that way.”
Now, Philadelphia begins preparations for training camp — its first under Nurse, who replaced Doc Rivers earlier this summer — unsure of when — or if — its star point guard will join them. To that end, Nurse said he and the team will be preparing for both possibilities and will address them as things unfold.
“For me, it’s, it’s obviously we’ve kind of got Plan A, Plan B, right? We’ve gotta get the team ready regardless. We’re expecting him to show up.
“He shows up? We go. If he doesn’t? We go. There’s two ways to look at it. And we proceed and we really get to work in building our foundation of what we want to do, getting all our principles in, all the things that we want to do, and play the style of play we want to play regardless.”
Perhaps the best summation of the situation, however, came from Harden’s longtime friend and teammate P.J. Tucker, who was asked whether he thought Harden would be back anytime soon.
“That ain’t for me to answer,” Tucker said with a laugh and a shake of his head. “I have no idea.
“I hope they figure it out soon. But if not, it’s gonna be what it’s gonna be.”
James Harden skips 76ers media day to take trade demand to next level – SB Nation
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