China Detains Suspected Spy Near North Korea 'With Map in his Underwear'

A lapel pin bearing the likeness' of former North Korean Leaders Kim il Sung (L) and Kim Jong-il (R) is seen on Ri Hung Sik, Ambassador at-large of the North Korean Foreign Ministry during a news conference at the North Korean Mission to the United Nations in New York, November 17. China says it detained a man on its border with North Korea suspected of spying. Reuters/Mike Segar

Chinese guards near the North Korean border captured a foreigner suspected of spying after he was found with a hand-drawn map in his underwear of military positions along the border, the army-run China Defence News said on Thursday.

The suspected spy, caught in late October in Jilin province after a tip-off from a farmer, was also carrying a high-powered telescope and photos of military facilities, the report said.

The report did not identify the nationality of the person. In September and October, China reported detaining some Japanese people for spying.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a news conference in Beijing he did not know anything about the case.

Espionage and intelligence gathering activities have been "rampant" in recent years, the report said. It quoted a military official as saying the rise in tourism in the scenic, forested region in northeastern China had created an opportunity for criminals.

"They enter the region in the name of running businesses and tourism, waiting for an opportunity to gather intelligence on us, while at the same time trying hard to rope in and instigate our people, bringing serious harm to our national security and development interests," it said.

President Xi Jinping has overseen a tightening of already strict security laws and regulations, including setting up a new national security commission and renaming the national security law, which took effect in 1993, as the Counterespionage Law.