Retired Chinese History Enthusiast Uncovers Classified Documents for $0.83

The Ministry of State Security has highlighted the story of a retired man who inadvertently helped them address a security breach.

A retired military history enthusiast made an unexpected discovery when he purchased books that turned out to be classified Chinese documents. These materials had been intended for destruction but were instead sold as scrap.

The Ministry of State Security shared the story of a man named Zhang on social media last Thursday. According to the ministry, the former employee of a state-owned enterprise is an avid collector of military books and newspapers.

One of his recent acquisitions came from a recycling center in his neighborhood. While passing 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’, prompting him to contact the local office of the ministry. An investigation revealed that the books originated from a nearby military unit.

Two military personnel identified as Guo and Li were tasked with destroying several batches of documents but instead sold them. The package weighed over 30kg and yielded the soldiers approximately 20 yuan ($2.75).

The ministry stated that they have provided guidance to recycling center employees on handling such incidents and have collaborated with the military to enhance secrecy procedures. The leak was deemed not to pose any serious security risks, but the military employees were reprimanded for their “weak sense of confidentiality.”

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