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mr-absentia

How China Uses High-Tech Surveillance to Subdue Minorities - The New York Times

China’s high-tech apartheid in Xinjiang.

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«How China Turned a City Into a Prison

Developed and sold by the China Electronics Technology Corporation, a state-run defense manufacturer, the system in Kashgar is on the cutting edge of what has become a flourishing new market for technology that the government can use to monitor and subdue millions of Uighurs and members of other Muslim ethnic groups in Xinjiang.

Treating a city like a battlefield, the platform was designed to “apply the ideas of military cyber systems to civilian public security,” Wang Pengda, a C.E.T.C. engineer, said in an official blog post. “Looking back, it truly was an idea ahead of its time.”

The system taps into networks of neighborhood informants; tracks individuals and analyzes their behavior; tries to anticipate potential crime, protest or violence; and then recommends which security forces to deploy, the company said.

On the screen during the demonstration was a slogan: “If someone exists, there will be traces, and if there are connections, there will be information.”

A New York Times investigation drawing on government and company records as well as interviews with industry insiders found that China is in effect hard-wiring Xinjiang for segregated surveillance, using an army of security personnel to compel ethnic minorities to submit to monitoring and data collection while generally ignoring the majority Han Chinese, who make up 36 percent of Xinjiang’s population.

It is a virtual cage that complements the indoctrination camps in Xinjiang where the authorities have detained a million or more Uighurs and other Muslims in a push to transform them into secular citizens who will never challenge the ruling Communist Party. The program helps identify people to be sent to the camps or investigated, and keeps tabs on them when they are released.

The Trump administration is considering whether to blacklist one of the Chinese companies at the center of the Xinjiang effort, Hikvision, and bar it from buying American technology. Hikvision is a major manufacturer of video surveillance equipment, with customers around the world and across Xinjiang, where its cameras have been installed at mosques and detention camps. C.E.T.C. owns about 42 percent of the company through subsidiaries.

“Xinjiang is maybe a kind of more extreme, more intrusive example of China’s mass surveillance systems,” said Maya Wang, a China researcher for Human Rights Watch who has studied the technology in the region. “These systems are designed for a very explicit purpose — to target Muslims.”»

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