Beijing district put up posters warning women that handsome foreign men may be spies.
The comic book “titled Dangerous Love” tells the story of Xiao Li, a young government worker, and David, a red-haired “academic.”
David and Li meet at a dinner party, and he soon begins to woo Li with gifts and flowers. She marvels at her luck.
“Having a handsome, romantic, cultured foreign boyfriend is great!” she says in frame six.
Although David, is a foreign spy intent on stealing Chinese state secrets. One day while walking in the park, he asks Li to show him internal government memos to help with his academic work.
“Darling, there shouldn’t be any secrets between us,” he implores.
So over a romantic Western dinner with wine, she hands him a notebook and urges him to return it soon. But the Chinese police catch up with David and soon arrest Li, too.
The final frame shows Li sitting in an interrogation room handcuffed and crying.
“‘You are a state employee, yet your ability to keep secrets is concerning. You are suspected of violating our nation’s laws,” a police officer says.
Authorities in the Xicheng district, where the posters appeared, have not explained why the campaign was created. The area is home to Beijing’s financial hub where many foreigners live and work.
China is currently trying to attract foreign talent by offering “green cards” to people who have skills in areas the communist country wants to develop.
The posters also come at a time when China’s government is ramping up its rhetoric about “hostile foreign forces” and the threat of espionage.
On Tuesday, a court in the southwestern city of Chengdu sentenced to death a former state employee named Huang Yu for stealing state secrets and selling them to an unspecified “foreign” intelligence service. His wife and brother-in-law were also sentenced to five and three years in jail, respectively, for assisting him.
Chinese media and people on the Internet largely ignore the Dangerous Love posters, even after the government inaugurated National Security Education Day recently to make people aware of security problems in the country.
China frequently runs propaganda and public awareness campaigns and they are rarely sophisticated.
Beijing traffic police produced a cartoon in 2013 that targeted the “mistakes commonly made by women drivers.”
It included forgetting to release the handbrake, failing to change gears properly, having a heavy foot on the brake or accelerator and lacking a sense of direction.
“Often on their own women can’t find places they have visited many times before,” it said.