Made in China, Exported to the World: The Surveillance State
Under President Xi Jinping, China has become the prototypical modern surveillance state. In addition to spying on its own citizens, the Chinese government is exporting its model of state surveillance across the globe. According to research by Freedom House, surveillance systems developed in China are currently being used by 18 foreign governments including those of Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Kenya, the United Arab Emirates and even Germany, while China has provided 36 countries with censorship training.
In Ecuador, the highly controversial domestic intelligence agency has 24-hour access to footage of 4,300 surveillance cameras across the country. The system, which has been in place since 2011, was abused by Ecuador’s former president Rafael Correa to monitor and attack his political rivals.
Analysts are concerned that China’s efforts to sell its model of the surveillance state around the world is giving rise to a new form of technology-based authoritarianism. According to Adrian Shahbaz of Freedom House, China is selling its model “as the future of governance,” as a result of which “the future will be all about controlling the masses through technology.”