How many government informants are there in China?

Kailu County

Kailu County

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The interest of intelligence observers was stirred last week by a rare revelation made by a Chinese regional police official, who said that his bureau employs one in every 33 local residents as an informant. Speaking to Xinhua News Agency, Liu Xingchen, deputy public security bureau director for Inner Mongolia’s Kailu County, said his force employed 12,093 informants out of approximately 400,000 inhabitants. The informants’ task, he said, was to provide government with intelligence, to weed out “non-harmonious elements”, and to uncover “all sorts of information that might destabilize society”. Some reports note that, when applied nationwide, these statistics point to the possible existence of “at least 39 million informants”, a number that represents 3 per cent of China’s population and “lays bare the enormous scale of China’s surveillance network”. Such extrapolations, however, are risky for a number of reasons. To begin with, the number given for government informants in Kailu County, if correct, appears to include both criminal and political policing informants. Second, it is possible that deputy director Xingchen is overstating the number of informants in order to impress his immediate and national superiors, something that happens quite often in the Chinese bureaucratic context. Finally, it would be surprising if the Kailu County bureau had enough resources to manage over 12,000 active informants; chances are this number contains several very occasional or downright inactive informants. This is not to say that Chinese state authorities do not rely on an extensive covert informant network for purposes of social control. But one must be careful not to draw broad conclusions based on the isolated remarks of a single regional government official.

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About intelNews
Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

One Response to How many government informants are there in China?

  1. Glipka says:

    Hardly a surprise, this is the backbone and an insurance policy for the politburo. The pattern repeats itself over and over again. For example it is estimated that in Poland in 1980 there was an approximate 30,000 “secret collaborators” and “operational contacts”. This number grew to over 80,000 in 1989 when “dynamic” changes in Poland began the so called destruction of the eastern block. The whole idea is that when a certain amount of uncertainty is enters the central committee thinking processes, concentrated efforts are made to: a) weed out the “non-harmonious elements”, b) replace them with or recruit new “constructive” members to pad out rank and file of the opposition. If the operation is effective, a point of no return is reached, the sheer momentum will lead to a stealthy transfer of power and control over the oppositionto the party.
    Another bit of trivia, a man that has been called the most recognisable face of the 20th century, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Leader of Solidarity, a man credited with “toppling of communism” – Lech Walesa has never once been heard or recorded criticing communism or the socialist system prior to 1989. Is it because he was registered with the security services as a secret collaborator “Bolek”.
    If the biggest hoax of the last century was flawlessly carried out in this manner, could one really blame Chinese central committee for preparing the ground “just in case”? Highly recommend watching a documentary produced by the EU “The Soviet Story”

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