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China's All-Seeing Eye 358

Posted by kdawson
from the market-stalinism dept.
krou writes "Naomi Klein writes in Rolling Stone Magazine about China's Panopticon-like experiment called 'Golden Shield' taking place in Shenzhen using technology supplied by companies such as IBM, Honeywell, and General Electric. Klein writes: 'Chinese citizens will be watched around the clock through networked CCTV cameras and remote monitoring of computers. They will be listened to on their phone calls, monitored by digital voice-recognition technologies. Their Internet access will be aggressively limited through the country's notorious system of online controls known as the "Great Firewall." Their movements will be tracked through national ID cards with scannable computer chips and photos that are instantly uploaded to police databases and linked to their holder's personal data.' According to Klein, this is more than just a Chinese experiment, it's also one that holds ramifications for America and elsewhere: '...the most efficient delivery system for capitalism is actually a communist-style police state... The global corporations currently earning superprofits from this social experiment are unlikely to be content if the lucrative new market remains confined to cities such as Shenzhen. Like everything else assembled in China with American parts, Police State 2.0 is ready for export to a neighborhood near you.'"
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China's All-Seeing Eye

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  • Re:Bla bla bla (Score:3, Informative)

    by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Monday June 02, 2008 @01:10AM (#23623351) Homepage Journal
    It has been a while since I've read Rolling Stone, but hey, it gave us the likes of Hunter Thompson and P.J. O'Rourke. All that is shiny is not shallow.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @01:59AM (#23623631)
    Naomi Wolf paths towards fascism
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjALf12PAWc
  • by canecubo (1300223) on Monday June 02, 2008 @02:04AM (#23623649)
    "To see the illogic of this, all one has to do is see that the countries that are the freest also tend to be the most capitalistic. The ones that are the most politically repressive also tend to be the most anti-capitalist."

    Sadly, you're so blinded by your ideology you don't even see the lack of factual accuracy in this statement. There is a long tradition of authoritarian capitalism, here are just a few, for your reflection:

    • Tsarist Russia
    • The Second Empire (Napoleon III)
    • Prussia, later Germany
    • Nazi Germany
    • The authoritarian/fascist states of central and eastern Europe between the wars and during WWII
    • Spain under Franco
    • Greece under the Colonels
    • Iran under the Shah -- a violent and repressive regime if ever there was one
    • Chile under Pinochet
    • Brazil under authoritarian military rule
    • for that matter, all other Latin American dictatorships: Mexico, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Peru, etc. etc.
    • Indonesia under Suharto
    • South Africa under Apartheid
    • The Philippines under Marcos
    • South Korea under Military Rule
    So as you see, the correlation between capitalism and true democracy is actually quite weak. I don't think the facts can be accused of being "illogical".
  • Re:You are confused (Score:2, Informative)

    by Kharny (239931) on Monday June 02, 2008 @02:43AM (#23623845)
    And you are confusing maoism with communism.

    There is no such thing as practical communism, it's a theoretical model with no real-life application due to human nature. The chinese state is a semi-feudal society.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @02:47AM (#23623859)
    okay, i am from china.

    i think many slashdotters have an incomplete information about the current status of internet freedom in china. i saw many threads on great firewall in slashdot. but hardly any discussion on the free speech on china's internet. presumably, i think, nobody reads chinese internet forum.

    if you look at some largest internet forums: tianyaclub.com, netease.com, sina.com. you will be very surprised to find out the freedom of speech.
    taking tianyaclub.com for example, it has 270,000 online readers (statistical data @ moment of writing this comment). old bbs-style threads are full of criticisms to the government. the official propaganda TV/newspapers are frequently derided. china's internet is not entirely as free as in the states. but freedom of speech is not entirely suppressed either. as long as the language doesn't
    cross the line, i.e., overthrowing the government, nobody cares. polices are busy at keeping the social unrest at poor rural areas under control.

    i had read rolling stone's article. frankly, i am quite surprised by the reaction. there are little discussion on the internet here. it is not that it is a tabooed topic. pretty much every thing could be openly debated on internet here. (of course, not including getting ride of ruling party). as far as i can tell, people are more concerned about corruption, rising house price, inflation.

    btw, George Orwell's books are available here in english book store. 1984, animal farm,etc...

  • What capitalism is (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jesrad (716567) on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:38AM (#23624397) Journal
    There are lots of comments using big words like "capitalism" and "communism" and "totalitarianism", and as expected on /. the actual economics knowledge is very poor.

    Capitalism is not industrialism, nor is it corporatism. It is the inclusion of the passing of time in economic calculations, which means three things: connecting markets of different time periods as in connecting present offer with future demand (speculation), integrating time preferences (interest in loans), and anticipating risks in your costs (insurance). The first two features have been in extensive use since at least the 1st century B.C., as is evident in the Roman Empire's banking system. The last one was invented in the 13th century by a monk and has, too, been in extensive use from then on. Capitalism has been in full use ever since. It's not to be conflated with any political system in particular - no political system can abolish capitalism since they can't abolish the passing of time and its effects on people's trading habits, they can only suppress trade directly.

    I think its open to debate if China is remarkable for its "efficiency". It mostly just has lots of cheap labor, no labor unions and very weak pollution and safety regulation which means its a cheap place to do things like manufacturing. There are quite a few things working against its economic efficiency.

    You hit the nail on the head here. The very particular ownership regulations of China, which are still very communistic in both spirit and letter, prevent the integration of a great many costs in the economic calculations. For example the land is owned by the state and cannot be owned and traded by the people making use of it: the owners have no incentive to increase or protect its value, so instead they milk it off as fast as they can for immediate gains in influence, renting it out as cheap dumping ground for industries that employ the citizens. The value lost here is monumental, and it does not make it to the GNP because there is no market for it - no valuation, no losses recorded. Same goes for homes, which are still extremely regulated, and a million other things they Chinese are not permitted to have and trade on their own.
  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Monday June 02, 2008 @05:34AM (#23624665)

    Efficiency requires freedom.
    Is this a quote from 1984 Redux? Sounds like it. In reality, efficiency does not require freedom so much as coercion and a clear chain of command, like in the military. Freedom actually breaks efficiency.

    It would be unbelievably inefficient for an army if every soldier during a war had the freedom to second guess or change his orders, and maybe go have a snack or watch a movie when he should be guarding the pass. That's freedom, and it's NOT efficient.

    The truth is that authoritarian systems are better adapted economically at producing goods cheaply and efficiently. It doesn't help if they don't also have smart people at the top, just like the most efficient army can still make mistakes with bad generals.

    The other issue about economic efficiency is that it's a silly goal in itself. People want to live their lives according to their own wishes, not according to the place that economic efficiency has in store for them. You might be extremely good at washing dishes, yet still prefer to be a poet at half the pay. If the goal is economic efficiency, then you'll be employed as a dish washer to maximize profit, instead of writing for a literary magazine. So the side effect of making efficiency the "goal" for a country is to make more people miserable than if the goal was something else.

  • by Squeeze Truck (2971) <xmsho@yahoo.com> on Monday June 02, 2008 @05:59AM (#23624781) Homepage
    The bookseller in front of my apartment (Dalian, China) has about twenty titles in English. 1984 is three of them.
    Hell, I picked up a copy of the Federalist Papers at the Xinhua state-controlled bookstore.

    You guys need to calm down and stop jumping to conclusions. Very little is banned, and that not very well.
  • by Count Fenring (669457) on Monday June 02, 2008 @08:59AM (#23625773) Homepage Journal

    Given the choice of reading material you put up, I'm assuming this is not the case, but on the internetwebitrons, "rabid anti-zionist" links in to a particular brand of conspiracy-whackjobbed anti-semitism. I think you're identifying with non-support of Israeli policy coupled with non-belief in "the Holy land belongs to Jews on religious grounds," as opposed to "Ah'm a skinhead but don' lahk to let on, then the gummint will take mah kids and guns away."

    Assuming you're not looking to identify with that definition, explicit definition of what you mean by anti-zionist might avoid some grief based on the median (perhaps also mode) anti-zionist.

  • by Jesus IS the Devil (317662) on Monday June 02, 2008 @11:13AM (#23627217)
    Um I don't think so. I've been those forums. If you write anything critical and have facts to back it up, often times it'll be closed/deleted. Just because someone is able to voice their opinion for a few minutes doesn't mean it will stick.

    There indeed is a lot of censorship. When was the last time you heard the media criticize the government? Like never. And what does 99% of the people see? Internet forum postings or television/newspaper?

    So to say that China is "almost" as free as other democratic countries is just as ludicrous as saying a mouse is as big as an elephant.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @12:20PM (#23628073)
    I couldn't remember my password but I remembered I could post as an AC. I'm an expat working in Beijing China, and I agree with bits of the parent poster. No one here really cares about internet freedom, and everyone goes about their merry lives (oh yes, people here can be happy). More traditional issues like inflation, politics (the Olympics & Tibet) and corruption are at the fore.

    On being monitored; I'm not sure. It feels like I'm free to do whatever I want online, and my local friends and colleagues never complain about it. However, in the wake of the recent Sichuan earthquake a local 17 year old filmed herself mouthing bullshit about the Sichuan earthquake victims (i.e. they deserved it etc.) and put it up on one of the Chinese Youtube imitators. I didn't keep track of the issue closely but she was arrested by the police within 2 or 3 days. Whether this occured through IP tracking and monitoring or whether it was one of her neighbours/friends who reported her to the authorities, I have no idea.

    Having come from the Western bubble and reading years of Western press coverage of China, actually living in Beijing is a suprising experience. There are some remnants of Communism like middle aged stars singing patriotic songs on media channels broadcast on the subway, or first year University students having to go through a two week training camp marching to old Communist march tunes.. but in general, the social face of China is as capitalist as it can get. The amount of activity is ruthless and unbelievable. Many of the modern-age people are cold and urban. It's such a different beast from what the Western mainstream caricaturize it as. As for police in China, I've never met any ruder in my life across 4, 5 countries.

    In all, I don't see the 1984 thing happening anytime soon. If it does, it would have to be extremely impressive to operate in stealth.. and given the general work attitude, efficiency and skill of China's current workforce (government or otherwise), I would say it would be amazing if they could achieve that level of control.

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