China's state security police have set up a website to collect tip-offs regarding alleged threats to national security, including "colluding with foreign countries ... or institutions."
The site, which is available in Chinese and English, wants to know about any organization or individuals whose actions may endanger China's "sovereignty, territorial integrity and national security."
It is seeking reports of anyone believed to be "organizing, plotting or committing activities to dismember the state, fomenting the [dismembering of] the state and undermining national unity," especially if they are acting "in collusion" with institutions, organizations or individuals outside China.
It also calls for reports of anyone plotting "armed rebellion or armed riot," as well as acts aimed at "subverting state power and overthrowing the socialist system," including "rumor" and "libel."
The ministry also welcomes any information about defectors or would-be defectors, and anyone engaged in "stealing, secretly gathering, buying or unlawfully providing state secrets or intelligence for institutions, organizations or individuals outside [China]."
Anyone in possession of "equipment or materials exclusively used for espionage purposes" should also be reported, as should anyone publishing and disseminating media content in order to endanger state security, it said.
Other means of endangering state security include religious activities, the setting up of social organizations, enterprises or institutions, or meeting up with a person of interest to the state security police after being warned not to, the online guide to the website said.
Those whose reports are confirmed and found useful will receive "certain material or spiritual rewards," the site promises, adding that reports may be made anonymously if necessary.
Rights activist Ye Jingchun said he fears such a platform may turn people against each other, and that the reporting system will be used as a further tool of oppression by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
"Relations between people aren't getting more harmonious; they are becoming more and more strained," Ye told RFA. "We can't rule out the possibility that some people will fabricate such reports."
"If anyone was really betraying their country, it wouldn't be up to [ordinary people] to blow the whistle: they would have been found out already," he said. "We don't know anything about this sort of state business."
The fear of being accused of "endangering state security" extends far beyond China's borders to its hundreds of thousands of overseas students, overseas activists say.
Wu Lebao, a Chinese student studying in Australia, said his family and friends back home had been put under pressure by the authorities to stop him from making comments critical of the Chinese government while he was overseas.
He said the state security tip-offs website was a bid to "manufacture terror" among ordinary Chinese people.
"They want to extend this atmosphere of fear across the whole population," Wu told RFA. "After a while, people will just take this atmosphere for granted."
Beijing petitioner Liu Xiaofang said she couldn't see how most people would come by the information the state security police are looking for.
"I don't think this is very likely ... unless of course the authorities are targeting you, and just want to find a charge to pin on you," Liu said. "If things are now escalating to the point where they will call you a spy, then I think we have reached a new level on their war on the general population."
Overseas activists say China's state security police are already recruiting agents, some of them as long-term 'moles,' from among the more than half a million students studying overseas.
The secret police are particularly keen to infiltrate overseas Chinese dissident groups, such as those fighting for democracy in their home country, or among emigre ethnic minority Tibetans and Uyghurs, they say.
Reported by Wen Yuqing for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.