Experts said the number of spies in China’s major cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, and in more restive regions, such as Tibet and Xinjiang, was likely to be far higher. The number of spies in Kailu County, extrapolated nationwide, suggests China has at least 39 million informants, around three per cent of its population. By comparison, around 2.5 per cent of East Germans spied for the Stasi secret police under Communism.
It is unclear whether all the informants in Kailu County were kept on the government payroll, but other Chinese cities have adopted a rewards system. More than 200,000 yuan (£18,730) was awarded in a single month in the southern city of Shenzhen to informants who offered 2,000 tips on criminal activity.
Meanwhile, researchers at China Digital Times have translated leaked internal documents that spell out the role of China’s Domestic Security Department (DSD), the huge security operation that is dedicated to “preserving public harmony”.
See also “How the Chinese state oppresses: a local police chief explains” from the Economist blog.