Chinese history buff buys military secrets for $0.83

Lazy eyes listen


A retired military history buff was caught by surprise when he purchased books that turned out to be classified Chinese documents. The materials had been sold for scrap instead of being destroyed.

The story of a man with the surname Zhang was reported by the Chinese Ministry of State Security on social media last Thursday. The former worker in a state-owned enterprise is an enthusiastic collector of military-related books and newspapers, according to the ministry.

One of his recent acquisitions came from a recycling station in his community. As he was walking by, Zhang noticed two bags of books being loaded. He purchased four that seemed interesting for 6 yuan ($0.83).

Later at home, he noticed that the documents were marked ‘secret’ and ‘confidential’, so he decided to call the local office of the ministry, the report said. An investigation established that the books came from a nearby military unit.

Two military personnel surnamed Guo and Li were ordered to destroy several batches of documents, but sold them instead. The package weighed over 30kg and netted the soldiers roughly 20 yuan ($2.75).

The ministry said it has instructed employees of the recycling station on how to handle these types of incidents and worked with the military to ramp up secrecy procedures. The leak did not pose any serious security risks, the statement said, though the military employees were reprimanded for having a “weak sense of confidentiality.”

The story appears to be part of the ministry’s campaign to increase public awareness of the nation’s anti-espionage law. It was revised last year to introduce several changes, such as a requirement for telecommunications companies to cooperate with the state to prevent the dissemination of sensitive materials.