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China's All-Seeing Eye 358

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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  • by coolsnowmen ( 695297 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @12:53AM (#23623247)
    "using technology supplied by companies such as IBM, Honeywell, and General Electric."

    IBM making money at the expense of morality; nothing new here. []
  • by niktemadur ( 793971 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @12:58AM (#23623283)
    Fortunately, somebody had the vision to warn us about this sort of thing, sixty years ago. I'm willing to bet that in China, a land where the government censors almost everything in sight, Orwell is banned.

    BTW, has 1984 ever been translated into Mandarin? If so, whoever did it, that person should have a statue erected in every Chinatown in the western world, just like Dr Sun Yat-Sen eventually in Shanghai and Beijing.
  • by graft ( 556969 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @01:13AM (#23623381) Homepage
    Why don't you RTFA? There you will find discussion of, for example, China's 130 million-strong population of migrants and how they are the underclass forming the backbone of cities like Shenzen.
  • by niktemadur ( 793971 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @01:20AM (#23623409)
    These are Communists in name only, on two fronts:

    - Stalinism wasn't Communist, it was Stalinism. In that regard, whatever China's government practices, it's not Communism.
    - Communism on paper was never about putting antifreeze in toothpaste or lead in child toy's paint. That's the exact opposite, Xtreme Capitalism.

    It's heartbreaking how the least enlightened people end up running so many countries, and that goes for China present and past, too.

    Ever heard about The Great Sparrow Campaign? In the late fifties, the Mao government decided that sparrows, who ate seeds, were a public menace and implemented a nationwide campaign to kill the sparrows. They succeded, by having the population bang pots and pans in the streets, keeping the sparrows in the air until they dropped dead from exhaustion.

    As a result, locusts flourished, with their natural predator virtually gone, devastating the countryside, generating a famine that killed, by most estimates, between 35 and 40 million Chinese. All of it covered up, of course, there is not a single photograph that documents this massive catastrophe, even in the second half of the XX Century.

    Another fine example of unthinkably ignorant and incompetent government at work, in full effect, and never mind the symbolic Communist tag.
  • 1982 Quote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @01:25AM (#23623425)
    Up here in space / I'm looking down on you,
    My lasers trace / everything you do,
    You think you've private lives / think nothing of the kind,
    There is no true escape / I'm watching all the time!

    I'm made of metal, my circuits gleam
    I am perpetual, I keep the country clean.
    I'm elected, electric spy,
    I'm protected, electric eye.

    Always in focus / you can't feel my stare,
    I zoom into you / you dont know I'm there.
    I take a pride in probing / all your secret moves,
    My tearless retina takes / pictures that can prove...


    Electric eye (in the sky)
    Feel my stare (always there)
    There's nothing you can do about it, develop and expose,
    I feed upon your every thought, and so my power grows!


    I'm Elected -
    Protected -
    Detective -
    Electric -

    - Judas Priest, Electric Eye, 1982.

    Orwell's 1984 isn't the only functional specification out there, after all.

    Germany was the proof-of-concept. Stalin's Russia and the Cold War Warsaw Pact countries were the alpha, which failed due to scaling concerns. China is the beta test site and release-candidate. Unistat goes live in 2009.

  • Re:Bla bla bla (Score:5, Interesting)

    by niktemadur ( 793971 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @01:34AM (#23623487)
    I agree that Rolling Stone is mostly padded with disposable fluff. But they always take their journalism seriously, so it's a great, subversive starting point for a good chunk of young people: buy the issue for their article on Panic At The Disco, then when you're bored, end up reading the article on how the Bush government has deregulated industrial pollution. And suddenly, shazam! A spark has gone off in your mind and your curiosity is piqued, and you've begun your life's journey as a conscious citizen.

    You know what the Greek term is for the citizen who does not participate in public affairs? Idiotis. Rolling Stone has planted the seed to obliterate the idiotis for a huge amount of people.
  • by upside ( 574799 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @02:19AM (#23623711) Journal
    On this vein, there is nothing communist about China anymore, it's a National Socialist system. Just like with the NSDAP (Nazi party), the "socialism" is there only in name.
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @02:25AM (#23623737)
    Despite the presence of many centralized CCD cameras in London, crime levels have yet to be reduced.

    If police cannot effectively track and follow criminals, what makes anyone think China can do any better tracking and following dissidents? It's a lot more obvious on a camera when a real crime is being committed, far less so when a thought crime is...

    What makes anyone think we should not laugh at the Chinese for attempting this? Let them waste their money on this fruitless pursuit of technology that someone with a square of cloth or a bit of paint can work around.

    People would be wise to remember that China has done a lot worse things than point cameras at people in the past. It seems like dissidents would be better off with a China that has fewer actual agents on the streets to collect and track people, and more worthless cameras collecting so much data they are unusable.

  • You are confused (Score:3, Interesting)

    by symbolset ( 646467 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @02:34AM (#23623791) Journal

    You are confusing communism in theory with communism in practice. It's a common error and your reeducation team will be around presently to correct the error.

  • by Free the Cowards ( 1280296 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @02:42AM (#23623839)
    I believe that the unspoken opinion on Slashdot is that cameras are only useless in free societies, and that totalitarian societies are much better able to make use of them. This is how people are simultaneously able to hold the opinion that 1984 warned us about all of this and these cameras aren't all that useful anyway.

    I'm not even sure that this unspoken opinion is wrong. If cameras can be sufficiently automated, or even just enough people can be put on duty watching them, then they can be used to compile behavior habits which don't pass the threshold of crime but which can be used for other oppressive purposes. The big worry with the proliferation of cameras in free societies is that the push to make use of the cameras will result in those societies becoming much less free.
  • Wait.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by crhylove ( 205956 ) <> on Monday June 02, 2008 @02:57AM (#23623919) Homepage Journal
    You mean it's going to be just like the US and UK already are?!? I agree that is horrifying!!!

    If you are concerned about human rights and the right to privacy in any country, please feel free to spread this image around: []
  • by m0n5t3r ( 1154605 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:24AM (#23624023)

    On this vein, there is nothing communist about China anymore, it's a National Socialist system. Just like with the NSDAP (Nazi party), the "socialism" is there only in name.
    actually, some people think that they are not that different []
  • by codeButcher ( 223668 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:29AM (#23624059)

    I think what the original submitter tried to insinuate is that *American* companies (you know, the land of the free, defender of democracy, etc. etc.) would participate in such "oppressive" schemes. But America has become a lot less free post-9/11, as I assume most would agree, and is moving into the same direction (courtesy of tech probably even supplied by the same companies).

    What disturbs me is that many other countries are implementing similar Big-Brotherish measures than America is. Since some of them (e.g. China) seem not to be ideologically aligned with the USA on things like The War on Terror, I have to conclude that the Twin Towers-disaster and the WOT are handy excuses, the REAL motivation seems to be more control over the world's populations in general. Yeah, and why all at the same time?

    Seems the world will become a much more interesting place in future....

  • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:38AM (#23624113)
    A key point about canecubo's list is that many of these regimes were at least condoned by the U.S. while many were puppet regimes out right installed by the U.S. just because they were anti communist, anti union and pro big business. Nazi Germany was openly embraced by the elites in the U.S. right up to 1939 and sometimes after. George W. Bush's grandfather, for example, was the American banker for the Thiessen family who bankrolled Hitler's rise to power.

    If the United States is the guiding light to Capitalism and Freedom around the world, how come the U.S. is so closely aligned with so many repressive regimes. The answer is because capitalism has no real correlation to freedom. Capitalism is just as much at home in repressive right wing states as it is in liberal democracies. There is no real correlation between economic system and governmental model.

    Capitalism does in fact flourish in right wing states, often very oppressive ones. Unbridled Capitalism has a nasty tendency towards wealth concentration in the hands of an elite few and the people with all the money almost inevitably seek to control all the levers of political power because it protects, supports and nourishes their economic interests. This is a cocktail which often leads to right wing dictatorial governments which are no friends to freedom. In particular they often are extremely fond of breaking up labor unions, because labor unions are good for workers but bad for profitability. They are also fond of rigging elections or getting rid of them all together because ruling elites are small and easily outvoted if you let all the poor unwashed masses have an actual say in their government. In the U.S. this has been accomplished by a two party system where both parties are controlled by the ruling elites and which never offer an actual choice to ordinary people.

    The U.S. being a free society can mostly be attributed to the immense wisdom of our founding fathers who did create a remarkable framework for a free society. Unfortunately, its been slowly unraveling ever since. I think if the founding fathers saw the horror that is the Federal government, the state of civil liberties, and our two party system today, they would no doubt launch a second revolution to topple it and restore the government outlined in the Constitution which has been almost completely obliterated by our two political parties and the corporations and ruling elites which own them.

    Capitalism is about profit, pure and simple. Freedom doesn't really have anything at all to do with profitability and often gets in its way. Capitalism and Freedom can coexist, in fact Capitalism is a helpful ingredient for freedom since it is extremely beneficial to control your own wealth rather than letting a bureaucratic state do it for you. Unfortunately Capitalism can and does flourish in repressive right wing states, always has and probably always will.
  • Catching up? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:40AM (#23624125)
    Hmmm. So the Chinese are watching their citizens as much as the UK and the US watches theirs?

    Is the complaint that it has taken the Chinese so long to catch up on the level of snooping?

  • by Christoph ( 17845 ) <> on Monday June 02, 2008 @04:55AM (#23624507) Homepage Journal

    Be your own news source...

    I have visited Shenzhen twice and posted my photos of Shenzhen []. I took photos in public with a large camera/lens with no trouble from the authorities. I was hassled by the shoe-shine scammers and massage parlor hawkers near the Shangri-La hotel in Luohu, but my photos were not sensored by customs and my gear was not stolen/confiscated.

  • by mppm ( 898502 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @05:35AM (#23624673)
    I was in SZ a few months ago and will go back in the Fall. My girlfriend is there and she just got her new ID card. For the casual visitor the last thing anyone thinks of is that one is in a police state. There are security and police everywhere, but they mostly look bored and, as far as I could tell, they didn't have much to do. One is very safe walking around, even late at night. Try that in Philly, or Miami, or any large American city. Of course the population is mostly homogenous--they are all Chinese and, as such, have a common ground. The only thing keeping the Chinese from taking over the world is the communist party. The red tape (no pun) makes doing business very awkward. If they can kick the CCP we will all be speaking Mandarin in a few generations. I'd much rather live in SZ than, say, the Middle East or even Europe, now. My impression was that, in general, they really like Americans. Not many places in the world can say that. I'd suggest people go there and spend a month or two. Get your own ideas and make up your own mind.
  • by Asic Eng ( 193332 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @05:37AM (#23624677)
    Well, is the Pope catholic? Seriously - is he? That would depend on whether he really believes in the religion he preaches - some Popes in the past did not, but in modern times that's not actually a problem for the catholic church. I'd say the same criteria would have to be applied to any ideology: if you believe in an ideology and base your policy on it - then your reference to it is not just symbolic. Was the Mao regime (and that does not just include himself, but the vast numbers actually running the country) communist? Did they read Marx and believe in his ideas? Who can claim that their claim to be communists is less valid then their own? Is real communism only defined by people who are "theoretical communists" - i.e. people who never actually attempt to run a country on their own? I think Mao has a much better claim.
  • by Admiral Ag ( 829695 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @06:20AM (#23624887)
    Please use paragraphs.

    You know, for all the accusations of communist wingnuttery that abound on the internet, the substance just isn't there. Apparently, Daily Kos is supposed to be a far left hate site, but when I go there, all I find are disaffected liberals and social democrats. I'd love to believe that there are authoritarian leftists just waiting to turn Western countries into police states, but I just can't find them.

    Klein is a slightly cute Canadian lefty liberal. That's about it.

    On the other hand, you cannot go anywhere on the internet without finding an endless supply of free market nutcases who are obvious fanatics, and who continue to pontificate on about Austrian Economics, an economic doctrine that no reputable economist endorses and which has never been shown to work. For all their problems, at least the communists managed to keep a society together for longer than ten minutes, and sometimes actually achieved stuff (like putting a guy in orbit).

    The vast conspiracy of leftwing nutcases is in fact a conspiracy imagined by the vast actual conspiracy of rightwing market fundamentalist nutcases projecting their nuttiness on others.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @07:51AM (#23625311)
    umm, actually the line between fascism and communism is even blurrier than the line between fascism and capitalism. Mussolini started out as a socialist. The Nazi's were the National Socialist Party. The key element of both of these systems is central planning. Capitalism as an economic system rejects central planning. Ultimately, any proposal for central planning of the economy is the anti-thesis of capitalism. Large corporations tend to like central planning because it makes it easier for them to hang onto what they've got. Capitalist economies tend to be dominated by many small businesses.
  • by aproposofwhat ( 1019098 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @08:20AM (#23625467)
    And how is being anti-Zionist wrong, exactly?

    I have (had - he died in 1979) a great uncle that served as an intelligence officer in Palestine during the Mandate, and heard from him first hand about the terrorism conducted by Irgun, Rosh Haganah and their like.

    Funnily enough, he was quite complimentary about the Arabs.

    I think that may have coloured my opinion somewhat.

    Thanks for your solicitude, though - if I fancy a warm death I will certainly consider your advice.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @08:47AM (#23625665)
    It's referring to the staggering success of Shenzhen - a centrally planned capitalist city (an ecomonic enclave within a communist state) that didn't even exist 30 years ago, and now, per the article, probably produces HALF of everything you own. It's hard to imagine the meandering forces of democracy or the free market coming up with something so successful - rather like an optimal designed solution vs an evolutionary sub-optimal one.
  • by sydneyfong ( 410107 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @08:49AM (#23625687) Homepage Journal

    It's heartbreaking how the least enlightened people end up running so many countries, and that goes for China present and past, too.
    The guys at the top these days are pretty competent.

    Mao was a charismatic leader who's probably much better leading troops than governing a country. There's no doubt that however you hold him as a person, he did blunder quite a bit with his economic policies. The leaders today are better. The economy is growing, people are *generally* getting richer, and say what you will about China's human rights situation, it's *slowly* getting better, and at least not getting worse. Then look around and see many other countries regressing, and given the complexities of running the world's largest (most populous) country, I'd say that they can't be too incompetent.
  • by aproposofwhat ( 1019098 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @10:06AM (#23626435)
    OK - my anti-Zionism is rooted in my upbringing (my great uncle lost numerous friends to Zionist terrorists - you can call them freedom fighters if I can call Hamas the same).

    But I'm not antisemitic - hell, I went to a school that was about 1/4 Jewish, and had a lot of non-Zionist Jewish friends.

  • She's coming (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alexborges ( 313924 ) on Monday June 02, 2008 @11:58AM (#23627801)
    Whilst there was naught to see beyond the mist of his bedroom, he knew the computer was there, watching.

    "Up you go", he said to himself. Into the shower, into his polo shirt, into his fucking docker kakhis. Out the door, neighbors in their own fucking kakis. Neighbor wives into their own fucking kakis.

    A fucking brown golden retreiver got him to think about the color kaki and to wonder about why does it contrive such peacefullness to him. He disregards that thought. He moves on.

    He gets in the brown bus, heading to the brown office of Brown-Red Hat food division. He does not stop for lunch: its waiting for him in the cafeteria the exact momento his meal time comes up.

    "Just in time, is how the japs did it, just in time is how i like it", its eleven o'clock, he finishes lunch. He goes back to the office. He gets no calls. He only codes two lines, and hits the green button, then the machine tells him what to do next. If he does not hit the green button every exactly one minute, a big red buzzer comes up, and that lady from up there will come and look down on him, she will tell him how he is endangering the possibilities of their kids, he is telling him about the new legal provissions that provides for the automatic inheritance of both credit and work records to his children.

    She will drop a final line about the war, about how the red-chinks are going to "get us" because we do not know how to work for a common goal, as a team, and they can. Theyve learned to sacrifice for the lot. Theyve learned to trust their leaders.

    Theyve learned that the gene-fight the cultural-fight is for the long run, and while we, a young occident, were fighting about whats the right ammount of freedom, they were building the mega-machine-economic-behemot covering from Moscow to Tokio, from Siberia to Malasya. And we are loosing this war because of selfish people that do not understand the importance of the green button. It allows us to plan on the long run, to calculate mistakes, to get ahead of them, to be more productive.

    "You should feel fortunate", she would say, turning on her heels and moving away, gesturing as if she were crying, just like the Corporate Human Resources IT Coach Management Manual says she should gesture.


10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.