In less than a kilometer, you can count about a hundred surveillance cameras. So there are cameras on average every nine meters. They are stuck on the walls, at the gates of residential areas, at intersections, above the external counters and doors of shops, on lampposts. At traffic lights, pedestrians are even monitored by large TV screens that look like red-faced faceplates for everyone.
If the intersection camera detects the face of an unruly passenger, the fine may start immediately. On bypasses, the flash of flashes is continuous. Bags and backpacks are screened at subway stations, and fever was measured remotely during the Korona period.
Supplier Katarina Baer and her photographer husband Kalle Koponen spent the fall of 2019 in Shanghai, a metropolis of 14 million inhabitants. Baer studied there at Fudan University. The intention was to linger longer, but Korona brought forward the return.
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The journey gave birth to a book that is exciting – and cold. China is taking a great leap into world power through economy, technology and discipline. Its determination is frightening.
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Baer focuses his text on China’s control policy and its modern means; the corona becomes a current sideline. Koponen has been able to describe middle-class housing and modest but abundant homes.
Wechat has it all
In China, digidystopia is advanced and the network is being frantically monitored. At the heart of the control is a large firewall that blocks Western media websites and prevents Chinese from accessing Facebook, Twitter, Google, or other applications familiar to us.
There are largely over a thousand social media companies or sites in the country. The most popular of these is Wechat, which has been downloaded to its phone by more than a billion Chinese. In Wechat, socializing in groups of friends, shopping, paying bills, ordering food, taxis or tickets, and looking for a dating club. Formal matters can also be taken care of.
As Wechat began to be on almost every phone in the last decade, China tightened its grip. The law on “litigation and incitement to problems” also applied to content published on the Internet. This has only tightened network discipline. Two years ago, the digital government launched a campaign “against the dissemination of negative information”.
The people in charge of the discussion groups repeatedly remind you of what to say or show. Criticism of those in power is obviously punishable, but it is also inappropriate to slander religion, drugs, or extramarital affairs. Smoking or large tattoos are not allowed in China. The penalties are severe for the first-timer.
Power and arbitrariness
Even in the West, outrageous content is being removed and discussions are being moderated. The court considers where the line between hate speech and free speech runs. However, the behavior prohibited in China is so vaguely defined that digital police have a lot of power and arbitrariness left.
The raw sorting of the content is done by artificial intelligence. The Army of Human Censors will then take a look at the highest-risk publications and borderline cases. The most dangerous are politics, terrorism, sex, violence and suicide.
Already in the last decade, China’s government and private companies employed a couple of million censors. The development of artificial intelligence and the professionalisation of the field have made operations more efficient.
But China knows the history of dictatorships, even its own, Katarina Baer notes. “The surveillance network will only be tight once a deterrent has been created that anyone – even a neighbor or family member – can report anyone for the slightest reason.”
The whole nation in the database
Face recognition has become more common. The face is the key to entry at the gate and front door of your residential area, in universities and student dormitories. The face is also a wallet: by showing their faces, millions of Chinese pay for their subway trips, purchases and restaurant bills.
The Chinese leadership is aiming for a comprehensive database that will identify all 1.4 billion citizens in real time from the image stream of surveillance cameras. In addition to the criminal record, family, health and property information as well as employment history can be added to the system. It is also supplemented with genetic information; The collection of DNA samples from millions of citizens is currently underway.
Factory workers, locomotive drivers and soldiers are already wearing a monitoring helmet in many places, whose sensors measure their emotional state and record, for example, rage or anxiety. This affects the pace of work and maintains social stability, which is the number one social goal.
Students are spying
There are representatives of the Communist Party in Chinese universities at every level. At Fudan University in Shanghai, year-round students are divided into groups, each with a party-designated supervisor student. He takes care of the ideological correctness of his fellow students and reports anomalies.
Hundreds of Chinese universities have student spies who are offered scholarships and better grades. Their job is to report to the party if they hear their teachers blaming China or the party.
Academic freedom has not been enjoyed during communist rule. Now, however, science, research and teaching are being smoked with accelerating spirals. Along with universities and schools, the judiciary and journalism are areas where the party’s fear of the West is strongest.
Feel Xin’s doctrine
From 2013, the party began demanding a loyalty test from journalists to ensure they retained their “Marxist journalistic values”. In the second year, the test was combined with an application to study Xi Jinpingin learn.
“Xi Jinping’s Thoughts on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era” is a doctrine that was incorporated into the country’s Constitution in 2018 when President X was granted lifelong power. It tells what Xi thinks about China’s position in the world, the country’s internal affairs, the military or diplomacy.
The phone application made for learning also acts as a news and communication site. The in-app quizzes give you points and little prizes, such as tickets to attractions. The name of one quiz is “We are a community of common interests. That is why Xi is our only choice. ”
China is prosperous and stable, which is greatly appreciated, especially by those who grew up in difficult conditions. Researchers at Harvard University released a report last July that there is no rampant in China over general dissatisfaction.
China has entered a new era: it wants to become a world power, both economically and politically. Therefore, the country as one man and woman must stand behind the party and its leader Xin.
Tuula Koukku retired editor-in-chief.
Published in Science Journal 1/2021
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