December 10 was Human Rights Day. Bitter Winter celebrates it with four articles. The second is devoted to how high-tech surveillance is used to violate human rights.
by Bitter Winter
- The Chinese authorities have applied the facial recognition technology to all imaginable situations. Invasive high-tech surveillance equipment is used to monitor and control China’s residents every step of their way. In a village under the jurisdiction of Hangzhou, the capital of the eastern province of Zhejiang, the number of surveillance cameras has increased to 500 this year from 300 in 2018. Surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition devices have been installed at major intersections.
High-tech facial recognition systems are used in particular against believers, as the CCP escalates its crackdown on all religions. A believer from a house church in Hangzhou said that 106 surveillance cameras were installed in her community in April, and the regular doorbell at the entrance was replaced with a smart lock.
- The high-pressure Xinjiang-style surveillance has rapidly spread among the Han populace as well. In June, the Public Security Bureau of a locality in the southeastern province of Jiangxi installed 195 surveillance cameras in a residential compound under its jurisdiction. High-tech surveillance equipment, including ID card scanners and a facial recognition system, was also fitted at the entrance. The personal information of all residents has been entered into the system, and now every person who enters the compound is put under the close surveillance of the CCP’s “Big Brother.”
- Under various pretexts, the CCP is collecting a full range of biometric information from all citizens across the country, seriously invading their privacy. On the morning of July 24, local police went to the homes of village residents in Shangzhuang town, under the jurisdiction of Jiangxi’s Fengcheng city, to collect blood samples from males, one adult and one child, in each family. All village residents were also asked to fill in the “DNA Database Personnel Information Form.”
In addition, a local police station in Fuqing city in the southeastern province of Fujian issued a public notice for blood sample collection, in preparation for the national census and the launch of the third generation digital ID cards for Chinese citizens. Some male residents in the jurisdiction were selected to have their blood samples collected.
- The requirement for the owners of rental properties to install cameras in their units adds to the long list of high-tech surveillance systems and programs launched by the Chinese government to ensure the complete control over its population, including Skynet, Sharp Eyes, and others. Residents in Fujian Province reported that the police had forcibly installed surveillance devices in the door locks of some rental properties. According to the workers who installed these surveillance devices, through them, authorities can monitor who is entering and leaving each rental property.
- The vehicle will forward the owner’s information to the government – this is another means by which the Chinese government monitors citizens. Bitter Winter has previously reported that police in some regions in the provinces of Heilongjiang and Henan forcibly installed surveillance devices in electrically-powered bicycles and motorbikes.
According to an owner of an electric-vehicle dealership in Fujian’s Quanzhou city, every new electric vehicle has to have a monitoring device installed. If the monitoring device is not installed, the electric vehicles are not allowed to be driven on the streets. This issue has also arisen in the cities of Jinjiang and Putian, both in Fujian Province. Some electric vehicle dealers have even set up service centers for installing tracking devices.
- The authorities are using satellite positioning systems, aerial drones, and other high-tech tools to conduct surveillance on believers and identify religious meeting venues to be closed.
In October 2018, a Buddhist temple on Bijia Mountain, located in Zunhua city in the northern province of Hebei, was closed by the local government. Subsequently, aerial drones continued to monitor the temple.
In December last year, in central China’s Henan Province, the local government shut down Si’en Church, a Three-Self church in Lihe township, under the jurisdiction of Nanyang city. On March 8, 2019, officials installed a 360-degree high-definition surveillance camera under the eaves of Si’en Church, aiming at the temporary meeting venue. Under round-the-clock surveillance, the believers were threatened by the township’s security director to stop gathering at the temporary venue, or else face arrest.