China arrests man for spying on aircraft carrier base

BEIJING - A Chinese man has been arrested for taking photos of an aircraft carrier base and selling them to a foreigner as more young Chinese Internet users are being recruited by foreign spies to gather intelligence on military affairs, state media said.

The man, surnamed Cao and from the eastern city of Qingdao, is awaiting trial, state broadcaster CCTV said on Saturday.

He had taken photos of an aircraft carrier base in Qingdao for a man who had claimed to be the editor of a military magazine and was paid "a large sum of cash", CCTV said.

"In recent years, the number of young Internet users like Cao who look for jobs and make friends on the Internet, been subverted by foreign espionage and intelligence agencies and accepted instructions from them to collect intelligence on military targets, has been increasing," CCTV said, citing unnamed counterintelligence officials.

CCTV said Cao, a local employee of a large business, had also entered a military airport to take photos and transmitted them to the editor.

In August, state media reported that a Chinese graduate student had been arrested for selling intelligence material to foreigners.

In May, a court handed a 10-year prison term to an individual who leaked secret documents and photographs, including military journals and information about bases in the southern province of Guangdong to a foreign spy.

China's state secrets law is notoriously broad, covering everything from industry data to the exact birth dates of state leaders. Information can also be labelled a state secret retroactively.

In severe cases, the theft of state secrets is punishable with life in prison or the death penalty.