China Aims For Near-Total Surveillance, Including in People's Homes

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Chinese paramilitary firefighters stand guard beneath a light pole with security cameras at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 8, 2018.
Chinese paramilitary firefighters stand guard beneath a light pole with security cameras at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 8, 2018.
AP Photo

By 2020, China will have completed its nationwide facial recognition and surveillance network, achieving near-total surveillance of urban residents, including in their homes via smart TVs and smartphones.

According to the official Legal Daily newspaper, the 13th Five Year Plan requires 100 percent surveillance and facial recognition coverage and total unification of its existing databases across the country.

Authorities in the southwestern province of Sichuan reported in December that they had completed the installation of more than 40,000 surveillance cameras across more than 14,000 villages as part of the "Sharp Eyes" nationwide surveillance network, the paper said.

Guangdong-based Bell New Vision Co. is developing the nationwide "Sharp Eyes" platform that can link up public surveillance cameras and those installed in smart devices in the home, to a nationwide network for viewing in real time by anyone who is given access.

"Sharp Eyes" comes from a ruling Chinese Communist Party slogan, "the people have sharp eyes," which traditionally relied on the eyes and ears of local neighborhood committees to keep tabs on what its people were up to.

Soon, police and other officials will be able to monitor people's activities in their own homes, wherever there is an internet-connected camera.

A Chinese internet user who asked to remain anonymous said the social media platform WeChat has also begun issuing warnings to anyone posting messages that the government deems undesirable.

"The internet and our smartphones have been under government surveillance for a long time already," the user said. "A friend of mine in Anhui is under surveillance, and he tried to buy a plane ticket to go overseas, but he couldn't leave the country."

"We can be placed under restriction or persecuted by them, or asked to 'drink tea,' [with state security police], or placed under surveillance, at any time," he said.

"Overall, it feels as if we're not free at all."

A worker installs a security camera pointed at a pedestrian walk way in Beijing, Dec. 11, 2017. Credit: AP Photo
A worker installs a security camera pointed at a pedestrian walk way in Beijing, Dec. 11, 2017. Credit: AP Photo
'Social credit' system

The Sharp Eyes system will be implemented in tandem with a "social credit" system that makes simple actions like buying a train ticket subject to sufficient social credit.

Under a pilot social credit scheme, people who are considered to be "troublemakers" by the authorities, including those who have tried fare-dodging, smoked on public transport, caused trouble on commercial flights or "spread false information" online will now be prevented from buying train tickets, the government announced earlier this month.

Employers who fail to pay social insurance or people who have failed to pay fines will also be on the restricted list, which takes effect on May 1.

The administration of President’s Xi Jinping is currently building a social credit system allowing government bodies to share information on its citizens’ trustworthiness and assign a "social credit score" to citizens.

In early 2017, the country’s Supreme People’s Court said that 6.15 million Chinese citizens had been banned from taking flights for social misdeeds, Reuters reported.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Comments (16)

Mike Columcille

from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

When the Chi-comms, the "biggest mass murderers in human history" (they have killed more of their own people than Hitler and Stalin COMBINED) do anything AT ALL, I am suspicious. But this, is horrifying.

Thought Police and Telescreens which are "always on" and are all tied into a central database, run by murderous commies... Remind you of anything?

Xi "Winnie the Pooh" Jinping, and the Party, are truly the enemy of the Chinese people.

Jun 09, 2019 05:53 PM


from Danville

Not only in China. Even America has more than 2 million Targeted Individuals. Even ACLU reported the terrorist watch list are so full of mistakes. The Patriot Act/FISA is being used to abuse and torture innocent civilians via 24/7 covert organized stalking using technologies like remote neural monitoring, voice to skull (v2k), directed energy. There are no more terrorist but in order to bloat the funding they guised "national security" but they use it for personal vendetta, targeting whistleblowers, activists, dissidents. The fusion centers which hire lowlives and criminals operate in hate/slander/smear campaign and act with impunity and get away with murder in destroying innocent peoples lives.

Feb 21, 2019 10:11 AM


from South Africa

And as China's influence grows because it holds no moral criteria for doing business with a nation, so all the despots of the world will also put Chinese cameras to use. By 2050 China will not have become freer because it was granted WTO status but rather the world will have become less free.

Aug 13, 2018 10:55 AM

Anonymous Reader

I for one welcome our new Surveillance overlords!!!

May 04, 2018 07:36 PM


@Anonymous Reader, you are very right. This type of surveillance already exists in the west. However, China is testing it out first, after which it will be rolled out worldwide within the next 10-20 years.

Apr 05, 2018 08:45 AM

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