Traveling to China? Watch out

Visitors to China have new reason to be concerned, especially if they ask too many questions, work odd hours, or have too much study-abroad experience.

China has unveiled a new hotline enabling citizens to report people they suspect of being foreign agents, according to a report in the state-owned Jilin Daily. The government is seeking anyone who would "steal, pry out, buy or otherwise illegally obtain state secrets or intelligence, or conspire, coerce or pay government employees to become traitors," according to a translation by the New York Times.

A post circulating on the Chinese social media website Weibo lists the characteristics of spies to which citizens should be alert. Among them are people who claim to work too many jobs; are well-funded; ask sensitive questions about politics, the military, business or the media; have more study-abroad experience than their age suggests; or start controversial conversations and sit back to observe.

A similar hotline in the province of Hainan has received dozens of tips since its creation in July. China detained Sandy Phan-Gillis, an American woman accused of spying in March, as she accompanied a trade delegation from Houston, as well as two Japanese citizens in May, and a Canadian couple operating a coffee shop last year.

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