The Xi Jinping regime seeks a new society designed around the power of digital surveillance. This is how the researchers sum it up Josh Chin Y liza linauthors of the new book “Surveillance State: Inside China’s Quest to Launch a New Era of Social Control,” in which they discuss how the country is shaping the society around jealousy.
The government advances this plan with each technological improvement and offers its successes to other authoritarian regimes. In the book, the authors indicate that China uses surveillance to create a “digital utopia” based on the help of modern systems.
The most notable case, due to human rights violations, has been that of Xinjiang, where the Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities are persecuted, under the excuse of avoiding extremism.
In that city, Chin detected two waves that impacted him. “The first was watching so much futuristic and unproven technology unleashed indiscriminately, and seemingly without hesitation or consideration of side effects, on an entire population. The second was when we realized that the Communist Party was using it to reboot one of the most reviled institutions of the 20th century: the mass incarceration of a religious minority in gulag-style camps”, he summarized, in an interview with the portal codabased in New York.
As he described, surveillance in the region is “truly totalitarian”, encompassing all Turkish Muslims. “Is omnipresent Y constantand its goal is to reshape the individuals it targets,” he added.
But, Chin explains, the coronavirus pandemic served to spread these practices to the rest of the country, where the strict “COVID zero” policy is maintained. More cities were subjected to harsh surveillance, under sanitary terms, to track and limit movements.
For his part, Lin points out that the social contract has been changed, previously based on economic improvements in exchange for political stability for the regime. Without the growth figures of previous decades, the authoritarian government offers instead to use technology to make life “pleasant and efficient”. In this way, citizens accept surveillance for better transit or health services.
“Many Chinese find surveillance attractive”, he added, noting that propaganda frequently highlights the benefits in fighting crime or finding lost children thanks to facial recognition. “The surveillance state is as much a propaganda project as it is a technology and infrastructure project,” he said.
But China does not plan to stop its current state of surveillance. “Beijing’s ultimate goal is something like a perfectly designed society: a society that has no dissidents because everyone is satisfied.which automatically corrects the course without the leaders having to intervene with force,” Chin warned in the interview.
Although he considers that such a level of “perfection” will not be reached, he believes that the Communist Party has not yet finished try to optimize their control over Chinese societyanalyzing technical and political barriers.
The authors also acknowledged the role that US technology companies have played in this project. “They have been the midwives of the Chinese surveillance state since its most embryonic state in the early 2000s, and they continue to feed it capital and components,” said Chin, who assured the multinationals did it “for the same reason that the American companies always do things: it is extremely profitable”. While he acknowledged that you can’t have control over what your customers do with your products, he said more efforts could be made.
Meanwhile, Lin summarized that “Western technology and capital have been the pillars of China’s surveillance state,” and asserted that Western companies have shown “naive optimism and strategic corporate ignorance.”
“In Xinjiang, Surveillance Is Truly Totalitarian”: Experts Warn Over Chinese Regime’s Massive Social Control