Chinese citizens have a new way to make a quick buck, provided they are privy to some nefarious activities in their community.
In controversial new laws announced this week, China's Ministry of State Security published new rules for people to be able to dob in their fellow citizens for any activities that might be damaging to national security.
The rewards for doing so range from about $2000 to $20,000 as well as "spiritual rewards" in the form of special certificates, the country's state media reported.
While rewards for exposing foreign spies are not new in China, these new measures are aimed at standardising rewards and motivating the public at a time of intensifying threats from foreign intelligence agencies and other hostile forces, a Ministry of State Security representative said.
While the announcement raised eyebrows online for its somewhat Orwellian nature, the Chinese Communist Party said the measures are about embracing the public's enthusiasm on such matters.
"The formulation of the measures is conducive to fully mobilising the enthusiasm of the general public to support and assist in national security work, widely rallying the hearts, morale, wisdom and strength of the people," the ministry representative said.
In recent years, Beijing has been encouraging a whole-of-society approach to national security, fostering a suspicion of rival nations.
Once a tip is provided to authorities, state security agencies would then check the report to see if it was true, and whether it offered new information before deciding on the reward.
People can lodge reports through a hotline or website, by post, in person, or any other way. When more than one person offers the same tip, the one who reported it first would be first in line for a reward.
The new rules were met with a mixed reaction on both Western and Chinese social media sites with some calling it "horrible", saying it would breed suspicion and likening it to Germany's infamously repressive Ministry for State Security in the 20th century known as the Stasi.
The Chinese population is no stranger to such community surveillance programs after the government controversially began rolling out its 'social credit' system in recent years.
In theory, the moral ranking system first announced in 2014 aims to give citizens a social score based on their behaviour and actions, with bad scores seeing limitations put on citizens' access to things like travel and home internet.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.