Chinese Government Is Building A Surveillance System That Will Target, Track Foreign Journalists, Students

from the if-you-can't-beat-'em,-maybe-it's-time-to-start-physically-beating-t dept

The Chinese government is truly, undeniably, utterly evil. Anyone saying otherwise has something to sell (most likely to the Chinese people or their government). Private companies and public entities alike have kowtowed and capitulated rather than face the ferocity of the easily angered government and/or risk losing access to a marketplace containing a few billion people.

China has embraced its own version of capitalism to create the leverage it now wields against those who offend it, no matter where else in the world they might be located. It sees even more opportunity in ultra-lucrative Hong Kong and has taken direct control of the region. It refuses to acknowledge Taiwan’s existence as a separate country and demands apologies from world leaders and professional athletes when they make the “mistake” of acknowledging yet another lucrative region China wishes to directly control.

It has rolled out multiple layers of oppression to keep its citizens in line, starting with pervasive widespread surveillance that ties into “citizen scores” that limit opportunities for those the government believes aren’t patriotic enough. It is engaged in the erasure of its Uighur Muslim population, utilizing concentration camps, disappearances, brutality, and a war of attrition designed to eliminate these “unwanteds” completely in the coming years.

Is China irredeemable? I guess it all depends on what you think of redemption. The underlying basis of Christianity is that no one is completely irredeemable (even if far too many Christians seem to believe certain people are). Our penal system, in a much more half-hearted way, conflates punishment with rehabilitation, as if the best way to turn your life around is to see it destroyed. China isn’t a Christian nation, so that ends that part of the speculation. And China most likely believes people can be punished into contrition, which will “redeem” them while allowing the state to remain intact. Can China ever be anything than increasingly worse versions of itself?

Sanctions and public condemnation haven’t had any effect. The Chinese government isn’t too big to fail. Nothing ever is. Just ask the former USSR (which, unfortunately, is resembling its old self more and more every day.) But it is too big to care what anyone else thinks. The first step towards redemption is realizing you need to be redeemed. Will China ever reach that starting point?

It seems unlikely. The government likes things the way they are. And its vision for the future is the elimination of any roadblocks to complete power. But it still struggles to control the narrative, despite constantly finding new ways to limit the spread of information it doesn’t approve of and its rewriting of even very recent history to excise anything that might suggest the state is immoral, fallible, or dangerous to the citizens it oversees.

Which brings us to this, which isn’t the worst thing China has done. Instead, it’s just another example of the Chinese government tossing aside concerns about its public image. Press freedoms are practically nonexistent in China. And now the government is planning to actively target journalists who refuse to play by its rules.

Security officials in one of China’s largest provinces have commissioned a surveillance system they say they want to use to track journalists and international students among other “suspicious people”, documents reviewed by Reuters showed.

A July 29 tender document published on the Henan provincial government’s procurement website – reported in the media for the first time – details plans for a system that can compile individual files on such persons of interest coming to Henan using 3,000 facial recognition cameras that connect to various national and regional databases.

The surveillance apparatus is already in place. The county has millions of surveillance cameras everywhere. All these cameras need are a certain form of “smarts” — one that lets the government identify and track undesirables. The government has already asked Chinese tech companies to give it AI capable of seeking out Uighur Muslims. Now, it wants a system that can see past facemasks and eyewear to positively identify journalists and foreigners it wants to keep track of. And it wants the system to be responsive and fast, capable of performing searches of recorded footage for images matching uploaded images or biometric attributes.

It’s going to throw a lot of money and personnel at this “problem,” grading targets on a scale that will easily indicate how much the Chinese government wants journalists or international students deported, disappeared, silenced, or otherwise punished.

The system will be operated by at least 2,000 officials and policemen, and specifies that journalists will be divided into three categories: red, yellow, green, in decreasing order of risk, according to the tender.

Different police forces covering all of Henan, whose 99 million inhabitants makes it China’s third-largest province by population, will be connected to the platform in order to spring into action in the event of a warning being set off, the tender explains.

Warnings will be set off if a journalist while in Henan registers into a hotel, buys a ticket, or crosses the provincial border, according to the tender.

“Suspicious persons must be tailed and controlled, dynamic research analyses and risk assessments made, and the journalists dealt with according to their category,” the tender reads.

All of this will be perfectly legal when it finally goes into use. The Chinese government has spent the last several years rewriting and expanding its national security laws to justify actions it takes against critics, activists, journalists, and dissidents. It has thrown “fake news” into the mix to grease the wheels for direct targeting of press outlets.

And it’s not just for locals. The Chinese government was unhappy with foreign news coverage of flooding in the country earlier this year and engaged in harassment of reporters covering the disaster. Not coincidentally at all, the proposal paper also lists “foreign journalists” as targets of this surveillance, which suggests the government wants to be able to eject members of the press from other countries the moment their reporting starts contradicting the government’s narrative.

This is ugly and it’s right out there in the open. The tender documents were perhaps never meant to be seen by outsiders, but the details show the government is seeking ways to destroy everything but the party line. No one really needs any more evidence the Chinese government is evil. But somehow, entities that should want to have nothing to do with it play by its rules and apologize publicly when they break them. Maybe China can’t be stopped. But the deference shown to it with alarming frequency certainly needs to.

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Comments on “Chinese Government Is Building A Surveillance System That Will Target, Track Foreign Journalists, Students”

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Valis (profile) says:

The USA is truly, undeniably, utterly evil.

FTFY.

Yes, I know I’m going to get flagged for this. But there is NO doubt that the USA is the most fascist, racist, anti-human rights, anti-democracy, anti-women, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, transphobic, blood-thirsty, war-mongering and evil nation that has ever existed on this planet. You have a bloody great cheek pointing a finger at China, when you are just infinitely worse. The most god-awful, murderous, genocidal nation in history. Not Napoleon, not Genghis Khan, not Pol Pot, not Hitler, not Churchill have ever gotten even close to the level of evil perpetrated by the USA on innocent human beings on a daily basis. Torture, murder, Genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, all clearly documented, yet ignored. Because it’s okay as long as it’s the USA doing it. Fuck you Tim Cushing, you evil scumbag.

Ps. I know I said "racist" twice, but it needs saying twice.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The USA is truly, undeniably, utterly evil.

You really should study the works of Ed Wood and Franz Liebkind more. You went straight past "poor" and "bad" and into the realm of "funny" in one swell screed. This being the internet … perhaps that was your intention? Still, remember the Rule of Goats.

Ps. I know I said "racist" twice, but it needs saying twice.

As Mel Brooks knows, it’s all in the timing.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Rocky says:

Re: My logic is broken so I vent stuff I think is eevuul

How evil something is can be judged how it treats its critics.

Funnily enough you are actually allowed to criticize the US for it misdeeds, even when in the US.

Now, go to China and criticize them for their evil deeds too and see how far your spleen-venting will take you. My guess it’ll take you to a cell.

So fuck you, because you are using your venting about the US in an attempt to apologize for what China is doing through misdirection. I hope China got their yuan’s worth out of you.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Re: The USA is truly, undeniably, utterly evil.

What, are you doing a top twenty reprehensible practices list?

Governments that live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. If I made a top-20 list for any arbitrary country, I’m sure that, line-by-line, comparing the lists of any two countries to determine which is "worst"…

…well, it would be like trying to determine which cell phone plan is worst.

I.e., if you really want to get down to comparisons, I’m sure there would be no problem finding a billion people who will rate China’s top-20 list worse than the United States top-20 list.

Yes, I’m sure China would have no problem findingi a billion people either, given their practices of oppression, censorship, indoctrination, political…oh, wait, not doing that yet.

Still arguing whether China lives in a glass house and should dare to throw stones.

Ninja says:

I don’t particularly like the way the Chinese government runs things but I have some stuff I keep wondering. The control they exert over communications has been successful in preventing a lot of what is happening in the western world concerning conspiracy theories and fake news (replacing with govt sanctioned fakes but alas it is a success in tackling the fakes they don’t like). They also closed an attack vector that eroded and ultimately killed democracies around the world. Brazil is a very recent and good example of what this external influence can cause. We know now thanks to good journalists and whistleblowers that the US govt was directly involved with the infamous "car wash" operation that led to the illegal arrest of Lula and there is a lot of US money in Brazilian media players that keep touting corrupt judges from the operation as national heroes. We also have the coup in Bolivia that exiled Evo Morales and caused violence against left wing politicians (and those deplorable scenes of a leftist elected politician being harassed and suffering violence in plain sight). The woman leading this absurd in Bolivia is in prison and there is ample evidence of external influence with heavy misinformation campaigns. Not to mention famous bloggers, youtubers, big media outfits and the likes that were caught getting such support to spread lies and help erode local democracies. You see, I’m not saying the Chinese are right but I am questioning how can a nation protect its own sovereignty, autonomy in face of this information warfare? Note that it seems to affect mostly countries governed by the left (reminding you that there is no representative left in the US, Sanders is the closest thing you have to left and he was boycotted by the Democrats) turning into right or far right govts. The places that successfully evade these attacks almost always use authoritarian measures and the ones that fell prey end up ruled by authoritarian right-wing regimes. How do you make it in a democratic way?

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"The control they exert over communications has been successful in preventing a lot of what is happening in the western world concerning conspiracy theories and fake news (replacing with govt sanctioned fakes but alas it is a success in tackling the fakes they don’t like)."

So instead of random misinformation from umpteen sources we’re talking about a cohesive misinformation campaign intended to memory-hole all the shortcomings of the national government holding the violence monopoly. Gosh. In case you missed the memo on this, that is so much worse.

"The places that successfully evade these attacks almost always use authoritarian measures and the ones that fell prey end up ruled by authoritarian right-wing regimes. How do you make it in a democratic way?"

By picking the way the rest of the world does it maybe? So far you’ve cherry-picked some pretty awful examples of "democracy" to compare China with. As in countries with a very shaky grasp on that principle from the get-go.

"I’m not saying the Chinese are right but I am questioning how can a nation protect its own sovereignty, autonomy in face of this information warfare?"

Strange question. If I didn’t know better I’d start thinking you were a pro-china shill gaslighting people. Because no national sovereignty or autonomy is threatened by a horde of trolls spreading disinformation – that nations democracy is.

No, seriously. The democratic way to proof a nation against dangerous nonsense is to ensure a high degree of education in the population and retain humanitarian principles in the legislative effort – by keeping money out of politics and make sure every citizen is encouraged to educate themselves on the topics and vote. Like most of the EU member states do it.

Anonymous Coward says:

anything they can think of to do to keep the 70 year old+ members in control of the future! sooner or later it’s gonna come back and bite them severely in the ass! in the meantime, however, these same government officials expect the rest of the world to allow their students access to western universities, western teaching, western culture, western languages without question. typical attitudes of scared bullies! reminds me typically of over-reactive USA Entertainments Industries!

ECA (profile) says:

Pure unadulterated information and news, isnt easy.

Conspiracy or not?
How much of news is controlled in the USA? But inside and outside forces.
Our gov/USA is interesting because of a few things.
They learned How to control news long ago.
Even in the past, the Big news groups Jumped on the band wagon with disparaging Different groups, And even now allot of the Crap generated against the Chinese/Asian groups, the Irish,And others is still floating around as Mis-info from the 1800’s. In WWII, the gov. used the Rasio and movies to pass Allot of propaganda, and it continued and got worse in the late 50’s and 60’s with Korea and Vietnam.
Always post Good news, Never declare we lost, Always patriotic and Believe in the gov. that sent you there. IF’ 1/2 of what really happened in those nations was In the public view, MORE people would have been in the marches, demanding we return home.

In every bit of this. Great people have warned about the Military Industrial Complex. And how it can take over HOW a country works. Part of the reality, tends to be returning HOME. All the jobs created during a war, disappear. So the gov. seems to LIKE keeping the war going. Less Unemployment. Less promises to keep(look up the promise in WWII that was given to returning military).
The last reasoning for taxes, After being, put in the constitution, was to pay for the war, WWI, or was it for the spanish American war, Which became another war and another, Before WWI and WWII.(banana war and the war to take the Islands of spain in the pacific. Ever wonder where all our heroes came from before WWI?
There is allot of background in USA history that has never been said. And even if you knew 1/2 of it and how the Military complex has done things. Its not a pretty picture.

Anonymous Coward says:

Only with nukes.

No one likes nukes and everyone prefers to have their rights stripped in favor of paying the bills.

So…

It’s too late to do anything unless one’s more than happy to slaughter 1.3 billion people, at a bare minimum.

Thanks, America, for showing how low one can go. And thanks, Southeast Asia, for enabling Xi to get away with that.

Anonymous Coward says:

I understand the evil, the bad, the judging of china according to our own views. What I don’t get is why should anyone do anything to change how the Chinese government treats… Chinese citizens. I sure do not want any Chinese going around suggesting that my government should stop to treat ne this or that other way and calling to change my government ways.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"What I don’t get is why should anyone do anything to change how the Chinese government treats… Chinese citizens."

Because your own government is watching and some in it are thinking "Hmm…that actually appears to work…".

In the long run caring about everyone profits you as well. Unless you want to stand there at the end and go "First they came for the socialists, but I did not care, for I was not a socialist…".

Niemöller’s story does not end well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Sure, then we should definitely do something about those African countries where they commit genocides every other day. And muslim ones where there is death penalty for gays. And other 3rd world places where they do not value life as christians do. How was that called? Oh yes. Crusades. I thought our civilization learnt something from the past, when extermination and forced conversion to the "right" way of thinking was mainstream. But then, it worked so well in the middle east in the last 30 years, so let’s give it a try with china as well… without expecting to trigger a response. I still favor the option of leaving every nation alone and deciding how they rule their own citizens and I do not fear my government to take "ideas" from China. It must be because I have much more respect for my fellow citizens (and governors among them) that you seem to have for yours.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"…then we should definitely do something about those African countries where they commit genocides every other day. And muslim ones where there is death penalty for gays. And other 3rd world places where they do not value life as christians do. How was that called? Oh yes. Crusades."

Ah, you’re talking about amnesty, doctors without borders, the various humanitarian efforts etc? You have a strange definition of "crusade", eh?

"I do not fear my government to take "ideas" from China. It must be because I have much more respect for my fellow citizens (and governors among them) that you seem to have for yours."

Apparently you’re not an american – because the alt-right over there seems to have copied the ultra-authoritarian playbook down to a T.

I have a lot more faith in my government not to emulate China because we keep our eyes on it and don’t slack. It’s a disaster when we get lower election participation than 80%. In the US a mere 60% is a high point – which already points to a failing democracy.

And, point of note. The US, in a dumbass move around the 80’s, gave manufacturing away to China and so like it or not, China sits on the US jugular. If the US wants to reverse that situation they’ll just have to do what China did – tank their economy for thirty years in order to eventually come out the winner. As a result they have a lot of influence today. Caring about how they do things today is about as sensible as caring how the US did things way back in 1950.

Because, in case you missed that bit in history, when the US was still top dog the rest of the world followed suit. Eventually. And now…China is in that seat.

"I still favor the option of leaving every nation alone and deciding how they rule their own citizens…"

In the end it all boils down to Fuck You, Got Mine, right?

We had those over here as well, until that bohemian corporal came along in 1932…at which point they found out that not caring about other people just means that when the bad guys come for you, you stand alone.

Anonymous Coward says:

If China keep on playing the international shithead, its eventually going to rouse the wrath of those who know how to screw things up technologically for international shitheads. Imagine if you will, a concerted effort by every kode kiddy and hack-team on earth, to punish China electronically. All at once.
It just makes my oblongata itch thinking about it. 🙂

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