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Chinese history buff discovers military secrets in stack of old papers he purchased for $1

The retired man, identified only as Zhang, promptly reported his discovery by calling a hotline after he realized that he had unwittingly "purchased" the nation's military secrets

In China, a military history enthusiast stumbled upon an astonishing revelation when he acquired four discarded books for less than $1 at a local recycling station. These seemingly innocuous volumes turned out to be confidential military documents.

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The incident came to light through a social media post by the country’s Ministry of State Security. The retired man, identified only by his family name, Zhang, promptly reported his discovery by calling a hotline. The gravity of the situation dawned on him as he realized that he had unwittingly “purchased” the nation’s military secrets. The post emphasized the potential dire consequences if these sensitive materials fell into the wrong hands.

This intriguing story, reposted on several prominent Chinese news websites, is part of a series by the powerful state security agency. Their aim appears to be captivating new audiences with dramatic narratives, some even presented in comic-book style. The overarching message underscores the critical importance of national security, especially given the escalating tensions between China and the United States. Both nations grapple with concerns about the theft or unauthorized transfer of confidential and secret information.

Zhang, described as a former employee of a state-owned company with a penchant for collecting military newspapers and periodicals, chanced upon two bags of new books at the recycling station. He paid a mere 6 yuan (approximately 85 cents) for four of them. Little did he know that these seemingly mundane volumes harbored classified content.

State security’s response

Upon Zhang’s report, state security agents swiftly descended upon the recycling station. Their investigation revealed a startling truth: Two military employees, tasked with shredding over 200 books, had surreptitiously sold them to the recycling center as paper waste. The weight of these discarded materials amounted to 65 pounds, and the transaction fetched a paltry 20 yuan ($2.75).

The agents promptly confiscated the books, and the military has since taken measures to close any loopholes in the handling of such sensitive material. However, China’s opaque state security apparatus and legal system often make it challenging to discern what precisely constitutes a state secret.

In recent years, both Chinese and foreign consultancies operating within the country have faced scrutiny for possessing or sharing information related to the economy. This scrutiny reflects an apparent broadening of the definition of state secrets, further emphasizing the need for vigilance in safeguarding sensitive information.

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Dr. Shubhangi Jha

Avid reader, infrequent writer, evolving

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