A cartoon posted in a dusty alleyway in the heart of Beijing warns passersby not to fall prey to the charms of foreign men: they might be spies. It is a graphic reminder of a struggle usually waged in the shadows, and a sign of the Chinese government’s intensifying campaign against espionage.  The poster’s comic book tale of love gone wrong ends in tears and a stern warning.

But China’s real life spy games have had a darker denouement, according to a New York Times article Sunday alleging that authorities killed or jailed up to 20 people for spying on behalf of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The counterintelligence operation took place between the end of 2010 and 2012, the Times said, an exceptionally sensitive period in Chinese domestic politics that saw the downfall of some of the country’s most prominent politicians amid a delicate leadership transition. READ MORE