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Spy vs spy

For the younger generations, Spy vs. Spy is a comic strip in Mad magazine about espionage activities between two stereotypical Cold War-era “Black” and “White” spies.

The comic strip was popular enough to be spun off into a video game in 2005.

It was funny and entertaining, unlike the real world of international espionage, which, as we have seen from verified accounts around the world, can be violent, brutal and deadly.

The espionage gadgets and activities we see in the movies are not purely fiction. There really are poison-tipped umbrellas (and they have been used, with lethal results) and surveillance cameras hidden in items such as lapel pins.

With an avowed “independent” foreign policy of being a friend to all and enemy of none, the Philippines shouldn’t be worrying about foreign governments spying on the country.

Our centuries-old friendship with one particular country, unfortunately, has become frayed, thanks to its greedy maritime claims and might-makes-right policy. Today our ties with China have been further strained by what appears to be its wiretapping activities in the Philippines.

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If it’s any consolation, we are not alone.

In London, the UK Foreign Office summoned this week China’s ambassador, Zheng Zeguang. Several reports said the envoy was given a “dressing down” by Foreign Secretary David Cameron over the “recent pattern of behavior directed by China against the UK, including cyber-attacks, reports of espionage links and the issuing of bounties.”

These activities, the UK Foreign Office said, were “not acceptable.”

Zheng was summoned after three men were charged in the UK with offenses under their National Security Act for allegedly spying for the intelligence services of Hong Kong, China’s special administrative region, between Dec. 20 last year until May 2 this year.

Facing charges are UK Border Force officer Chi Leung (Peter) Wai, 38; Home Office immigration officer and ex-Royal Marine Matthew Trickett, 37, and retired Hong Kong cop turned HK trade official Chung Biu (Billy) Yuen, 63.

China’s embassy in the UK described the charges as “groundless and slanderous” and complained about the UK’s “wrongful behavior, including its