‘Dangerous Love’: China’s All-Encompassing Security Vision

NATIONAL INTEREST — China marked its first “State (National) Security Education Day” on April 15. The event received international media attention, in large part due to a Beijing propaganda poster campaign called “Dangerous Love.” In the campaign, a young woman named Xiao Li, who works in the civil service, becomes romantically involved with David, a stereotypical foreigner. David compels Xiao Li to share confidential state communications to support his “academic research.” Unfortunately, Xiao Li soon finds herself arrested and accused of sharing state secrets with David, whom the government accuses of being a foreign spy.

In addition to the obvious warnings to Chinese citizens, the campaign might put foreigners on guard about detention and discrimination risks in China—particularly NGO employees or researchers working on sensitive subjects. Indeed, China under Xi Jinping is making foreigners feel less welcome. But even though there is truth to such interpretations, there are additional factors that should inform our analysis.

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