China is Teaching Kids to Spot and Report Spies With New Cartoon

Kids in China are now getting a head start in learning how to spot potential spies through educational cartoons. 

Last month, the state-run Chinese Society of Education launched an online course aimed at reinforcing children of their civic responsibility to safeguard the nation. The program, which is currently in its pilot scheme, covers China’s major cities including Beijing, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou.

The course includes two informative videos (one for primary and another for secondary students) which are designed to prepare Chinese children for the allegedly-growing espionage threat, reports the South China Morning Post.

In the cartoon intended for primary students, a young boy can be seen watching his father email photographs of Chinese warships to a foreign publication when suddenly his grandfather enters, carrying a news clipping about spying.

“Grandpa, what are spies?” the boy asks.

“Spies are those sent by enemies to collect information about us,” his grandfather answers. “In peaceful times, the information is used to damage our development. In wartime it can kill numerous compatriots.”

One of the questions included in the follow-up exam asks, “What number should you dial when you spot spying activities?”

For secondary school pupils, a video featuring actors and actresses who explain three types of espionage, such as leaking government data, taking photos of a military base for foreign spies, and breaches of cyber security protocols. In the course, students were taught that citizens are required by law to report such acts to authorities.

According to an official notice, the educational videos are produced in accordance with China’s National Security Law, which states children’s education must include national security. It also noted that the schools in a “safety education pilot scheme” must have the pupils watch the videos along with their parents and that the quizzes are to be completed online.

The program is part of the government’s continuous efforts to combat perceived security threats who “infiltrate, overturn, split or sabotage China”. In April, Beijing began supplying incentives of up to 500,000 yuan ($70,000) for those who can report a spy. The nation’s 2nd “National Protection Education and learning Day” was also celebrated that month which reportedly aimed to mobilize pupils of every age as “a substantial counter-spy pressure”.

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