This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

No Escape Escapade

"He was completely shocked when we took him away."
"He couldn't fathom that police could so quickly capture him in a crowd of 60,000 [people]."
Police Officer Li Jin

"At the back end, these efforts merge with a vast database of information on every citizen, a 'Police Cloud' that aims to scoop up such data as criminal and medical records, travel bookings, online purchase and even social media comments -- and link it to everyone's identity card and face."
Simon Denyer, The Washington Post
Hong Kong pop singer Cheung Jacky performs during his vocal concert on April 7, 2007 in Nanjing of Jiangsu Province, China.
Jacky Cheung is one of Hong Kong's most famous singers   Getty Images
Anonymity? What is that? Lose yourself in a crowd? Might have worked once. This is a new era. Not Big Brother but Big Government. Oh, that IS Big Brother, isn't it? A government that oversees the largest population on the planet, one billion, four hundred-million people. And growing, inexorably growing. This is also a government fixated on establishing firm control on everything and everyone. A government that has eyes and ears everywhere. Melting into a crowd will no longer offer shelter from detection.

For this is also a government that has mastered the technology by which it exercises those eyes and ears radiating out in all directions. In the final analysis, there is no escape. Your presence will be detected, and if you fail to conform to political, government-directed societal expectations there is a penalty. You will pay, and you will pay for any and all indiscretions. Citizens have a duty to their state and must fulfill it.

And here you thought the state had a duty to its citizens! Well, in a sense it does in that its self-perceived duty is to ensure that everyone obeys each and every edict the state promulgates. Above all, to make your presence known to the state. For it will know, with or without your cooperation. And this, in a sense is what 31-year-old Mr. Ao, attending a concert at the Nanchang International Sports Center to mingle with an estimated 60,000 other concert-goers, discovered.

"If I had known (I would be caught), I wouldn't have gone", he commented ruefully, but of course it was too late; hindsight is failure. He had no inkling that when he and some friends bought concert tickets and travelled about 60 miles to view the show featuring the popular legend of Cantopop, Jacky Cheung, that his freedom was soon to be curtailed. He was wanted for "economic crimes", and that was unfortunate; at the very least, his misfortune.
Police officers display AI-powered smart glasses in Luoyang, China, on April 3, 2018.  (Reuters)
Seated among the tens of thousands of other concert-goers it was he and he alone that a pair of police officers sought as they descended the aisles, finally to arrive at the row they had targeted, and where they apprehended Mr. Ao, to take him off to prison. As a felon, Mr. Ao's details were in a national database. On arrival at the stadium, cameras set up at all entrances held facial recognition technology.

He was identified, linked to his record and authorities were alerted. That is one person disposed of. When in fact the entire population will soon be under the same scrutiny where facial recognition technology will keep tabs on them. A comprehensive, nationwide surveillance system called "Xue Liang", (Sharp Eyes) is also currently underway which will monitor the presence of 1.4-billion Chinese.
A surveillance camera which is part of facial recognition technology test is seen at Berlin Suedkreuz station on August 3, 2017 in Berlin, Germany
(File Photo) There are an estimated 170 million CCTV cameras already in place in China  Getty Images
Its first target area will be Xinjiang province with a view to gathering data relating to the ethnic minorities in the western Chinese province. The policing program it develops there in aggregating data will serve as a model for the rest of China. In the meanwhile, in Xinjiang, home of the troublesome Uighur Muslims, an app, a mandatory-to-download one, is being circulated.

Its purpose is to detect "harmful audio, video, photos, ebooks and other electronic files" relating to "violence, terror, and illegal religions" (such as Falon Gong). Should the user not delete forbidden files as instructed by the app, and promptly, "the user will be held responsible by law". And if that sounds rather threateningly foreboding, it is meant to be.

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