Surveillance state: the repressive system with which Xi Jinping controls everything Chinese citizens do

The head of the Chinese regime, Xi Jinping
The head of the Chinese regime, Xi Jinping

China It is one of the most controlled countries in the world. Their Communist regime invest millions of dollars in surveillance systems super modern, to be able to monitor the citizens of the huge nation asianespecially in those places where they know that activities contrary to State policies may take place.

With the arrival of Xi Jinping to power, that control has tightened over the years, making China one of the countries where fewer anti-government protests are registered because they are immediately repressed.

For this reason, the journalist Josh Chin and his colleague Liza Linwho have dedicated themselves for decades to covering the situation that exists within Chinapublished a book on the rise of China’s surveillance state and how Xi Jinping has used high-tech surveillance to consolidate his power.

Apparently toilets are the only place in China that are not really subject to surveillance. However, in recent days videos have circulated of a protest by a man about the sitong bridge holding two banners. One says: “We are tired of tests of covid. We want to eat. We are tired of blockades. We want freedom.” The other calls to depose the “autocratic dictator” Y “autocratic traitor” Xi Jinping.

Faced with this strange situation, the State published an interview with Chin and Linafter they managed to visit the province of Xinjiangethnic minority home Uigur of China, one of the “most guarded places on earth”.

Uyghur ethnic women being suppressed by Chinese riot police
Uyghur ethnic women being suppressed by Chinese riot police

Chin described getting there as like driving to a war zone of “dystopian counterinsurgency” that was packed with cutting-edge technology like surveillance cameras and microphones to monitor the entire area.

The uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region, are targeted by the regime. “If you were a Uyghur, they would tell us that from the moment you walk out your door, you were being tracked,” he said. Lin.

In Xinjiang there are security checkpoints everywhere. “If you wanted to enter a bank, a hotel, a market, something like that, you had to go through a security check. You had to scan your ID card and also scan your face to match your ID card, so they would have a record of where you were going.”

“Walking down the street, the police could greet you and force you to hand over your phone and they would connect it to a scanning device and scan your phone for any digital contraband.”

What he chinese regime does with this information is to take the data and classify people into one of three categories: safe, average and unsafe.

People who did not fall into the “safe” category began to disappear and be sent to what the regime calls “schools,” the journalists said.

A perimeter fence under construction around what is officially known as a vocational skills education center in Dabancheng, China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
A perimeter fence under construction around what is officially known as a vocational skills education center in Dabancheng, China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

“But when we went to visit them, we saw one and it was essentially a prison. It had 6 meter high walls with barbed wire. There were guards out front with assault rifles. What we later learned was that these were internment camps where people were undergoing political re-education,” Chin said.

The journalist told about the time the Uyghur poet Tahir Hamut he was taken to one of these sites with his wife in 2017, when this system was just beginning to be implemented.

“They were called to a police station, apparently to have their fingerprintswhich seemed strange to both of them because, of course, all the Uighurs in Xinjiang They had been fingerprinted before, but they really had no choice. I remember Tahir describing this, and you could still see the fear in his eyes, because he had heard screams emanating from this basement because that’s where the police did their interrogations. And so he was standing in a line with a group of other Uyghurs. Nobody really knows why they were there. They started talking to each other and realized that it was all because they had all recently traveled abroad or all had passports.”

Having contact with the outside represents a threat to the communist regime.

“The line passed an interrogation room and Hamut could see chairs with blood stains on the ground below them.

According to what the journalists recounted, Hamut had his fingerprints taken but then his blood was also taken and then he was made to read a newspaper article for five minutes while they recorded his voice. They finally got a 3D image of her face after sitting in front of a camera and moving her head back and forth and up and down and opening and closing her mouth.

This simply shows the technological advance that the state uses to have more control over people, with every physical detail.

The implementation of this surveillance state responds to what Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, called a “people’s war against terrorism”.

These systems have been spreading throughout the Chinese territory since 2017, the regime has boasted of it and now they call it “intelligent cities” as happens, for example, with the town of hangzhou.

A night view of the smart city of Hangzhou in China
A night view of the smart city of Hangzhou in China

In this modern city are the facilities of companies such as Alibaba and video technology company hikvision. The local government has adopted this system to create a “brain of the city”, a platform that controls everything from traffic to garbage detection.

State surveillance also has a propaganda function on the part of the regime, the idea is to make citizens feel that they are being watched all the time, with the intention of “shaping” people’s behavior.

If people think that the cameras are watching them all the time and they can recognize them and distinguish them from a crowd, that affects the way they behave. This idea is disguised with the slogan that they do it for security. “The Communist Party is looking out for you.” And as long as everyone believes that, the party largely achieved its goals without even having to have that technology working 100 percent.

Currently, there are about 400 million surveillance cameras installed in China. Which is equivalent to one for every three or four citizens. This is one of the reasons why it is not profitable for China to only sell cameras in the domestic market, so they have started to expand their sales abroad.

With this plan to sell the cameras that monitor citizens, the Chinese regime is not trying to expand its model but trying to legitimize that it is not wrong to do so, so that each government would have the opportunity to install this “surveillance” system. .

In the opening speech of the Party Congress, Xi Jinping he focused on “national security” and said his regime is investing heavily in technologies that fuel this surveillance system.

According to Josh Chin, “The system is going to be, for him (Xi), extremely important because as he moves into the next phase of his government, he has to figure out how to maintain both control and legitimacy in the country without the huge historical economic growth of two digits that their predecessors had.

“Now China has, by their standards, extremely low economic growth and they need to figure out what to do, how to control society in the absence of that. Surveillance answers that question (…) they have the tools to detect the dissent and expel people who do not accept the current situation,” he assured.

Of course, under the excuse of the “zero COVID” policy, the regime has strengthened its levels of control over the population and this surveillance system does not seem to have an end, at least in the short term.

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