From The New Republic:
On the streets of Chinese cities, Big Brother has gone increasingly high-tech. Once, members of local Party committees essentially monitored their neighbors, sometimes filing reports on potential unrest and picking out future troublemakers. Today, some of that variety of Party watchdog still exists. But in cities like Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, and historically a center of protest, cameras have replaced people, making it even tougher for activists to evade the police. In Lhasa, cameras mounted on buildings, poles, and stores watch the square in front of the Jokhang, Lhasa’s holy temple.
Lhasa could prove a model for the country. Across China, local authorities are building camera surveillance in Internet cafes, city streets, and many other places, and Beijing has deployed what one comprehensive study called “the most extensive, technologically sophisticated, and broad-reaching system of Internet filtering in the world.”–a system that blocks websites on certain topics and containing certain words. In Shenzhen, a prosperous city in southern China, local police are rolling out a kind of trial run, a massive camera system, placed on roadside poles, to watch Chinese citizens. [Full Text]
Joshua Kurlantzick is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment and a special correspondent for The New Republic.