BEIJING – A new Chinese spy museum exhibits guns disguised as lipstick, hollowed-out coins used to conceal documents and maps hidden as a deck of cards.
What you won't find there, however, are foreigners.
A sign outside the Jiangsu National Security Education Museum in a park in the eastern city of Nanjing states that only Chinese citizens are allowed inside, a policy designed to keep the communist regime's cloak and dagger methods secret — no matter how timeworn they may be.
"We don't want such sensitive spy information to be exposed to foreigners, so they are not allowed to enter," a spokeswoman for the museum, who would only give her surname as Qian, told The Associated Press by telephone.
"Most of the people we turn away are pretty understanding since this is not your average museum," she added.
In an era of spy satellites and cyber-espionage, the exhibits described by Qian sound almost quaint.
Four halls display a history of Chinese security practices and equipment dating from 1927, the year the communists began their guerrilla war against their Nationalist foes. The collection includes tiny pistols disguised as fountain pens and tobacco pipes, a phony pocket calculator that hides a radio microphone, classified documents, explanations of wire-tapping techniques, other weapons, and uniforms of the intelligence services, Qian said.
Qian said that since its April 13 opening, more than 500 visitors, usually in tour groups, have visited each day— all of them citizens of the People's Republic.
Although people who look like Westerners are turned away immediately at the door, those who look "clean" and have Chinese features are usually allowed to enter without further checks, Qian said.