China offers rewards for online "terrorist" tip-offs - Xinhua

People use computers in an internet cafe at the centre of Shanghai January 13, 2010. REUTERS/Nir Elias/Files

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China has pledged to reward people who report online "terrorist" content up to 100,000 yuan ($15,200) for each tip off, after giving out 2 million yuan worth of rewards last year, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.

"The Internet has become a channel for terrorists to spread extremist religious ideas, provoke ethnic conflicts and advocate separatism," Xinhua quoted an unnamed source from the Cyberspace Administration of China's (CAC) reporting centre as saying.

The person said Twitter-like microblogs and popular instant messaging services such as WeChat were among tools used by terrorists to "brainwash" young women and children, and encouraged the public to provide tip-offs via a telephone hotline.

The centre's source said the most valuable tip off could receive 100,000 yuan, Xinhua reported.

Giving unusual details of their efforts last year, the centre in 2015 received reports of more than 20,000 cases, and handed out 2 million yuan worth of rewards, it said.

The CAC could not immediately be reached for comment during a public holiday in China.

In December, China called for a crackdown on online audio and video recordings used by "terrorists", after the Islamic State purportedly released a Chinese-language song to recruit militants.

The government says it faces a serious threat from Islamist militants and separatists in energy-rich Xinjiang, where hundreds of people have been killed in violence in recent years.

Rights groups, however, doubt that a cohesive militant Islamist group exists there, saying the violence stems from popular anger at Chinese controls on religion and culture.

($1 = 6.5710 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Michael Perry)