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

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Since the president is in power, the Communist Party has assumed strict social control under the excuse of providing security to the population. But in practice, the reality is different

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

The head of the Chinese regime, Xi Jinping

China it is one of the most controlled countries in the world. Its communist regimeinvests millions of dollars in super modern surveillance systems, in order to monitor the citizens of the huge Asian nation, especially in those places where they know that activities adverse to the State policies.

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

For this reason, the journalist Josh Chin and his colleague Liza Lin, who have spent decades covering the situation within China, published 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 been circulating of a man protesting on the Sitong Bridge holding two banners. One reads: “We are tired of COVID testing. We want to eat. We are tired of blockades. We want freedom.” The other calls for deposing the “autocratic dictator” and “autocratic traitor” Xi Jinping.

Faced with this strange situation, the media State published an interview with Chin and Lin, after they managed to visit Xinjiang province, home to China's Uyghur ethnic minority, one of the “most guarded places on earth”.

Surveillance state: Xi Jinping's repressive system controls everything Chinese citizens do

Ethnic Uyghur women being suppressed by Chinese riot police

Chin described getting there as like driving into a “dystopian counterinsurgency” war zone that was packed with cutting-edge technology such as 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 walked out your door, you were being tracked,” said Lin.

In Xinjiang there are controls security 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,” the communicators said.

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

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

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

Surveillance State: Xi Jinping's repressive system controls everything Chinese citizens do

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 that the Uyghur poet Tahir Hamut 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 fingerprints taken, which both found strange because, of course, all Uyghurs 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 queue passed an interrogation room and Hamut could see chairs with blood stains on the ground under them.”

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

This it 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 leader Chinese, 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 < b>Hangzhou.

Surveillance state: Xi Jinping's repressive system controls everything Chinese citizens do

A night view of the smart city of Hangzhou in China

In this modern city are the facilities of companies such as Alibaba and the 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 litter 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 100 percent working.

There are about 400 million < b>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 selling 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 every government would have the opportunity to install this “surveillance” system.

In the opening speech of the Party Congress, Xi Jinping 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 historic double-digit economic growth that their predecessors had.”

“China now has, by its standards, extremely low economic growth and needs 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 dissidence and expel people who do not accept the current situation”, he assured.

Of course, under the excuse of the “COVID zero” 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.