And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. - Revelation 16:12-14
While the Chinese grew their economy, they set into motion a series of events that have begun to impoverish the middle class in America. The result is fewer jobs and an indebted social system on the brink of collapse. - Mac Slavo, Report: A Three Phased Catastrophic Attack is in Process Against the US Economy, March 1, 2011
Originally Published on May 29, 2008
With the help of U.S. defense contractors, China is building the prototype for a high-tech police state. It is ready for export.
As China prepares to showcase its economic advances during the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, Shenzhen is once again serving as a laboratory, a testing ground for the next phase of this vast social experiment.
Over the past two years, some 200,000 surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the city. Many are in public spaces, disguised as lampposts. The closed-circuit TV cameras will soon be connected to a single, nationwide network, an all-seeing system that will be capable of tracking and identifying anyone who comes within its range—a project driven in part by U.S. technology and investment.
Over the next three years, Chinese security executives predict they will install as many as two million CCTVs in Shenzhen, which would make it the most watched city in the world. (Security-crazy London boasts only half a million surveillance cameras.)
The security cameras are just one part of a much broader high-tech surveillance and censorship program known in China as “Golden Shield.”
The end goal is to use the latest people-tracking technology—thoughtfully supplied by American giants like IBM, Honeywell and General Electric—to create an airtight consumer cocoon: a place where Visa cards, Adidas sneakers, China Mobile cellphones, McDonald’s Happy Meals, Tsingtao beer and UPS delivery (to name just a few of the official sponsors of the Beijing Olympics) can be enjoyed under the unblinking eye of the state, without the threat of democracy breaking out.
With political unrest on the rise across China, the government hopes to use the surveillance shield to identify and counteract dissent before it explodes into a mass movement like the one that grabbed the world’s attention at Tiananmen Square.
Remember how we’ve always been told that free markets and free people go hand in hand? That was a lie. It turns out that the most efficient delivery system for capitalism is actually a communist-style police state, fortressed with American “homeland security” technologies, pumped up with “war on terror” rhetoric. And 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.
Zhang opened the factory two and a half years ago, and his investment has already paid off tenfold. That kind of growth isn’t unusual in the field he has chosen: Zhang’s factory makes digital surveillance cameras, turning out 400,000 a year. Half of the cameras are shipped overseas, destined to peer from building ledges in London, Manhattan and Dubai as part of the global boom in “homeland security.” The other half stays in China, many right here in Shenzhen and in neighboring Guangzhou, another megacity of 12 million people. China’s market for surveillance cameras enjoyed revenues of $4.1 billion last year, a jump of 24 percent from 2006.
The workers at FSAN don’t just make surveillance cameras; they are constantly watched by them. While they work, the silent eyes of rotating lenses capture their every move. When they leave work and board buses, they are filmed again. When they walk to their dormitories, the streets are lined with what look like newly installed streetlamps, their white poles curving toward the sidewalk with black domes at the ends. Inside the domes are high-resolution cameras, the same kind the workers produce at FSAN. Some blocks have three or four, one every few yards.
One Shenzhen-based company, China Security & Surveillance Technology, has developed software to enable the cameras to alert police when an unusual number of people begin to gather at any given location.
In 2006, the Chinese government mandated that all Internet cafes (as well as restaurants and other “entertainment” venues) install video cameras with direct feeds to their local police stations. Part of a wider surveillance project known as “Safe Cities,” the effort now encompasses 660 municipalities in China. It is the most ambitious new government program in the Pearl River Delta, and supplying it is one of the fastest-growing new markets in Shenzhen.
But the cameras that Zhang manufactures are only part of the massive experiment in population control that is under way here. “The big picture,” Zhang tells me in his office at the factory, “is integration.” That means linking cameras with other forms of surveillance: the Internet, phones, facial-recognition software, and GPS monitoring.
This is how this Golden Shield will work: 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.
This is the most important element of all: linking all these tools together in a massive, searchable database of names, photos, residency information, work history and biometric data. When Golden Shield is finished, there will be a photo in those databases for every person in China: 1.3 billion faces.
Shenzhen is the place where the shield has received its most extensive fortifications—the place where all the spy toys are being hooked together and tested to see what they can do.
“The central government eventually wants to have city-by-city surveillance, so they could just sit and monitor one city and its surveillance system as a whole,” Zhang says. “It’s all part of that bigger project. Once the tests are done and it’s proven, they will be spreading from the big province to the cities, even to the rural farmland.”In fact, the rollout of the high-tech shield is already well under way.
When Tibet erupted in protests recently, the surveillance system was thrown into its first live test, with every supposedly liberating tool of the Information Age—cellphones, satellite television, the Internet—transformed into a method of repression and control.
As soon as the protests gathered steam, China reinforced its Great Firewall, blocking its citizens from accessing dozens of foreign news outlets. In some parts of Tibet, Internet access was shut down altogether. Many people trying to phone friends and family found that their calls were blocked, and cellphones in Lhasa were blitzed with text messages from the police:
“Severely battle any creation or any spreading of rumors that would upset or frighten people or cause social disorder or illegal criminal behavior that could damage social stability.”During the first week of protests, foreign journalists who tried to get into Tibet were systematically turned back. But that didn’t mean that there were no cameras inside the besieged areas. Since early last year, activists in Lhasa have been reporting on the proliferation of black-domed cameras that look like streetlights—just like the ones I saw coming off the assembly line in Shenzhen. Tibetan monks complain that cameras—activated by motion sensors—have invaded their monasteries and prayer rooms.
During the Lhasa riots, police on the scene augmented the footage from the CCTVs with their own video cameras, choosing to film—rather than stop—the violence, which left 19 dead. The police then quickly cut together the surveillance shots that made the Tibetans look most vicious—beating Chinese bystanders, torching shops, ripping metal sheeting off banks—and created a kind of copumentary: Tibetans Gone Wild. These weren’t the celestial beings in flowing robes the Beastie Boys and Richard Gere had told us about. They were angry young men, wielding sticks and long knives. They looked ugly, brutal, tribal. On Chinese state TV, this footage played around the clock.
The police also used the surveillance footage to extract mug shots of the demonstrators and rioters. Photos of the 21 “most wanted” Tibetans, many taken from that distinctive “streetlamp” view of the domed cameras, were immediately circulated to all of China’s major news portals, which obediently posted them to help out with the manhunt. The Internet became the most powerful police tool. Within days, several of the men on the posters were in custody, along with hundreds of others.
In Guangzhou, an hour and a half by train from Shenzhen, Yao Ruoguang is preparing for a major test of his own.
“It’s called the 10-million-faces test,” he tells me.Yao is managing director of Pixel Solutions, a Chinese company that specializes in producing the new high-tech national ID cards, as well as selling facial-recognition software to businesses and government agencies. The test, the first phase of which is only weeks away, is being staged by the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing. The idea is to measure the effectiveness of face-recognition software in identifying police suspects. Participants will be given a series of photos, taken in a variety of situations. Their task will be to match the images to other photos of the same people in the government’s massive database. Several biometrics companies, including Yao’s, have been invited to compete.
“We have to be able to match a face in a 10 million database in one second,” Yao tells me. “We are preparing for that now.”The companies that score well will be first in line for lucrative government contracts to integrate face-recognition software into Golden Shield, using it to check for ID fraud and to discover the identities of suspects caught on surveillance cameras. Yao says the technology is almost there:
“It will happen next year.”When I meet Yao at his corporate headquarters, he is feeling confident about how his company will perform in the test. His secret weapon is that he will be using facial-recognition software purchased from L-1 Identity Solutions, a major U.S. defense contractor that produces passports and biometric security systems for the U.S. government.
In 2006, Yao tells me,
“I made the first phone call and sent the first e-mail.”For a flat fee of $20,000, he gained access to the company’s proprietary software, allowing him to “build a lot of development software based on L-1’s technology.” Since then, L-1’s partnership with Yao has gone far beyond that token investment. Yao says it isn’t really his own company that is competing in the upcoming 10-million-faces test being staged by the Chinese government:
“We’ll be involved on behalf of L-1 in China.”Yao adds that he communicates regularly with L1 and has visited the company’s research headquarters in New Jersey.
(“Out the window you can see the Statue of Liberty. It’s such a historic place.”)L1 is watching his test preparations with great interest, Yao says.
“It seemed that they were more excited than us when we tell them the results.”L-1’s enthusiasm is hardly surprising: If Yao impresses the Ministry of Public Security with the company’s ability to identify criminals, L-1 will have cracked the largest potential market for biometrics in the world. But here’s the catch: As proud as Yao is to be L-1’s Chinese licensee, L-1 appears to be distinctly less proud of its association with Yao. On its Website and in its reports to investors, L-1 boasts of contracts and negotiations with governments from Panama and Saudi Arabia to Mexico and Turkey. China, however, is conspicuously absent. And though CEO Bob LaPenta makes reference to “some large international opportunities,” not once does he mention Pixel Solutions in Guangzhou.
After leaving a message with the company inquiring about L-1’s involvement in China’s homeland-security market, I get a call back from Doni Fordyce, vice president of corporate communications. She has consulted Joseph Atick, the company’s head of research. “We have nothing in China,” she tells me. “Nothing, absolutely nothing. We are uninvolved. We really don’t have any relationships at all.”You have probably never heard of L-1, but there is every chance that it has heard of you. Few companies have collected as much sensitive information about U.S. citizens and visitors to America as L-1: it boasts a database of 60 million records, and it “captures” more than a million new fingerprints every year.
I tell Fordyce about Yao, the 10-million test, the money he paid for the software license. She’ll call me right back. When she does, 20 minutes later, it is with this news: “Absolutely, we’ve sold testing SDKs [software development kits] to Pixel Solutions and to others [in China] that may be entering a test.” Yao’s use of the technology, she said, is “within his license” purchased from L-1.
The company’s reticence to publicize its activities in China could have something to do with the fact that the relationship between Yao and L-1 may well be illegal under U.S. law.
Here is a small sample of what the company does: produces passports and passport cards for American citizens; takes finger scans of visitors to the U.S. under the Department of Homeland Security’s massive U.S.-Visit program; equips U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan with “mobile iris and multimodal devices” so they can collect biometric data in the field; maintains the State Department’s “largest facial-recognition database system;” and produces driver’s licenses in Illinois, Montana and North Carolina.
In addition, L-1 has an even more secretive intelligence unit called SpecTal. Asked by a Wall Street analyst to discuss, in “extremely general” terms, what the division was doing with contracts worth roughly $100 million, the company’s CEO would only say, “Stay tuned.”
It is L-1’s deep integration with multiple U.S. government agencies that makes its dealings in China so interesting: It isn’t just L-1 that is potentially helping the Chinese police to nab political dissidents, it’s U.S. taxpayers. The technology that Yao purchased for just a few thousand dollars is the result of Defense Department research grants and contracts going as far back as 1994, when a young academic named Joseph Atick (the research director Fordyce consulted on L-1’s China dealings) taught a computer at Rockefeller University to recognize his face.
Whatever the legality of L-1’s participation in Chinese surveillance, it is clear that U.S. companies are determined to break into the homeland-security market in China, which represents their biggest growth potential since 9/11. According to the congressional staff member, American companies and their lobbyists are applying “enormous pressure to open the floodgates.”
The crackdown in Tibet has set off a wave of righteous rallies and boycott calls. But it sidesteps the uncomfortable fact that much of China’s powerful surveillance state is already being built with U.S. and European technology.
In February 2006, a congressional subcommittee held a hearing on “The Internet in China: A Tool for Freedom or Suppression?” Called on the carpet were Google (for building a special Chinese search engine that blocked sensitive material), Cisco (for supplying hardware for China’s Great Firewall), Microsoft (for taking down political blogs at the behest of Beijing) and Yahoo (for complying with requests to hand over e-mail-account information that led to the arrest and imprisonment of a high-profile Chinese journalist, as well as a dissident who had criticized corrupt officials in online discussion groups). The issue came up again during the recent Tibet uproar when it was discovered that both MSN and Yahoo had briefly put up the mug shots of the “most wanted” Tibetan protesters on their Chinese news portals.
As The New York Times recently reported, aiding and abetting Beijing has become an investment boom for U.S. companies.
Honeywell is working with Chinese police to “set up an elaborate computer monitoring system to analyze feeds from indoor and outdoor cameras in one of Beijing’s most populated districts.” General Electric is providing Beijing police with a security system that controls “thousands of video cameras simultaneously, and automatically alerts them to suspicious or fast-moving objects, like people running.” IBM, meanwhile, is installing its “Smart Surveillance System” in the capital, another system for linking video cameras and scanning for trouble, while United Technologies is in Guangzhou, helping to customize a “2,000-camera network in a single large neighborhood, the first step toward a citywide network of 250,000 cameras to be installed before the Asian Games in 2010.”By next year, the Chinese internal-security market will be worth an estimated $33 billion—around the same amount Congress has allocated for reconstructing Iraq.
While U.S. companies are eager to break into China’s rapidly expanding market, every Chinese security firm I come across in the Pearl River Delta is hatching some kind of plan to break into the U.S. market. No one, however, is quite as eager as Aebell Electrical Technology, one of China’s top 10 security companies. Aebell has a contract to help secure the Olympic swimming stadium in Beijing and has installed more than 10,000 cameras in and around Guangzhou. Business has been growing by 100 percent a year. When I meet the company’s fidgety general manager, Zheng Sun Man, the first thing he tells me is “We are going public at the end of this year. On the Nasdaq.” It also becomes clear why he has chosen to speak with a foreign reporter: “Help, help, help!” he begs me. “Help us promote our products!”
One of the first people to sound the alarm on China’s upgraded police state was a British researcher named Greg Walton. In 2000, Walton was commissioned by the respected human-rights organization Rights & Democracy to investigate the ways in which Chinese security forces were harnessing the tools of the Information Age to curtail free speech and monitor political activists. The paper he produced was called “China’s Golden Shield: Corporations and the Development of Surveillance Technology in the People’s Republic of China.” It exposed how big-name tech companies like Nortel and Cisco were helping the Chinese government to construct “a gigantic online database with an all-encompassing surveillance network—incorporating speech and face recognition, closed-circuit television, smart cards, credit records, and Internet surveillance technologies.”
When the paper was complete, Walton met with the institute’s staff to strategize about how to release his explosive findings.
“We thought this information was going to shock the world,” he recalls.In the midst of their discussions, a colleague barged in and announced that a plane had hit the Twin Towers. The meeting continued, but they knew the context of their work had changed forever.
Walton’s paper did have an impact, but not the one he had hoped. The revelation that China was constructing a gigantic digital database capable of watching its citizens on the streets and online, listening to their phone calls and tracking their consumer purchases sparked neither shock nor outrage. Instead, Walton says, the paper was “mined for ideas” by the U.S. government, as well as by private companies hoping to grab a piece of the suddenly booming market in spy tools.
For Walton, the most chilling moment came when the Defense Department tried to launch a system called Total Information Awareness to build what it called a “virtual, centralized grand database” that would create constantly updated electronic dossiers on every citizen, drawing on banking, credit-card, library and phone records, as well as footage from surveillance cameras.
“It was clearly similar to what we were condemning China for,” Walton says.Among those aggressively vying to be part of this new security boom was Joseph Atick, now an executive at L-1. The name he chose for his plan to integrate facial-recognition software into a vast security network was uncomfortably close to the surveillance system being constructed in China: “Operation Noble Shield.”
Empowered by the Patriot Act, many of the big dreams hatched by men like Atick have already been put into practice at home. New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., are all experimenting with linking surveillance cameras into a single citywide network. Police use of surveillance cameras at peaceful demonstrations is now routine, and the images collected can be mined for “face prints,” then cross-checked with ever-expanding photo databases. Although Total Information Awareness was scrapped after the plans became public, large pieces of the project continue, with private data-mining companies collecting unprecedented amounts of information about everything from Web browsing to car rentals, and selling it to the government
The Fourth Amendment prohibition against illegal search and seizure made it into the U.S. Constitution precisely because its drafters understood that the power to snoop is addictive. Even if we happen to trust in the good intentions of the snoopers, the nature of any government can change rapidly—which is why the Constitution places limits on the tools available to any regime. But the drafters could never have imagined the commercial pressures at play today. The global homeland-security business is now worth an estimated $200 billion—more than Hollywood and the music industry combined. Any sector of that size inevitably takes on its own momentum. New markets must be found—which, in the Big Brother business, means an endless procession of new enemies and new emergencies: crime, immigration, terrorism.
In Shenzhen one night, I have dinner with a U.S. business consultant named Stephen Herrington. Before he started lecturing at Chinese business schools, teaching students concepts like brand management, Herrington was a military-intelligence officer, ascending to the rank of lieutenant colonel. What he is seeing in the Pearl River Delta, he tells me, is scaring the hell out of him—and not for what it means to China.
“I can guarantee you that there are people in the Bush administration who are studying the use of surveillance technologies being developed here and have at least skeletal plans to implement them at home,” he says. “We can already see it in New York with CCTV cameras.”Chinese Prophecies Suggest EU Caution
“Once you have the cameras in place, you have the infrastructure for a powerful tracking system. I’m worried about what this will mean if the U.S. government goes totalitarian and starts employing these technologies more than they are already. I’m worried about the threat this poses to American democracy.”
China Floods Tiananmen Square With Police to Bar Protests
PC brands lobby while preparing for China Internet filter
China: Self-Centered on the World's Center Stage
When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order
China's manufacturing hits 20-month high
China Inflation May Quicken, Hurting Banks, Utilities, BNP Says
China Money Market Rates Rise After Economic Growth, Inflation Accelerate
China's Growth Accelerates to Fastest Since 2007 as Bubble Risks Increase
China newspaper slams Clinton Internet speech
China 'overtakes Germany as world's largest exporter'
Sign of the Times: China’s the word in more US schools
China slams US criticism of Internet controls
China's Economic Growth Surge May Push Wen's Inflation Goal Out of Reach
Inflation Rate in China May Pass 5% by Year-End, Credit Suisse's Tao Says
China Secures Major Foothold in California’s Growing Solar Market
U.S. enables Chinese hacking of Google
Bank of China to sell up to $5.8 billion in bonds
China Woes and Dollar Hurt Stocks
China Asked Some Banks to Limit Lending, Regulator Liu Saysmore
China Now Has The World's Second-Biggest Economy
How China Holds the American Economy by the Balls
China To Overtake USA In Manufacturing
$123,000,000,000,000: China’s estimated economy by the year 2040
Its Official: China is Unloading Its U.S. Treasury Bonds
O'Donnell said China plotting to take over US (comments posted at Yahoo)
Once again we find ourselves looking at what our founders had already lived through. Trade with all, alliance with none. The debt we owe China is a concern. Not as big of a concern as Chinese policies. I think people don't realize how much influence they have. Since 911 look at how they handle protests. Like the Chinese. If they want you to be silenced, they will silence you. Yet our Constitution grants us the right to protest. Take a look at the G-20 in Pittsburgh. Peaceful protesters, beaten, arrested, harassed, and intimidated. That's not American values. Those are Chinese values. Government involved in your everyday life. We better wake up soon. Or America will be like China. People controlled by the government. instead of a government controlled by the people. No one can deny what's happening in our country today. It's one step away from fascism. Something else Thomas Jefferson said "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security, deserve neither liberty or security." Strong words from a man who knew tyranny. Either way, the playing field is rigged. If we would just start manufacturing again, we wouldn't have to worry about it. Jobs is what it is all about. We can't continue to lose jobs to China and India. America will fall, except the rich and the politicians. Middles class and poor will be screwed. Vote the establishment out.
We are superior to them in military technology at the moment. We are in debt to them. They are just being patient, if our economy continues to struggle, we will crumble from the inside-out and then they will make their play. The second we are vulnerable, China will pounce on Taiwan...they have been building their military for years and lying about the amount of money they spend on defense. We need to wake up and realize what is happening, or our children will be speaking Chinese.
They are taking us over one Wal-Mart purchase at a time.
25 million illegal Mexicans here. What happens if China Arms them? That's rhetorical.
Problem is, she's probably right, but then again alot of countries have had the same agenda. China's big, we're trying to 'convert' them to a free democratic way of thinking. That's probably the reason we let them get away with alot of human rights and economic imbalance issues right now. But as they increase in technology and power they may become more of a concerning threat. They have nukes. And they have alot of US debt. They are also followers of the philosophy of SunZhu :A battle is best won that is won without fighting (paraphrase). I'm sure there are alot of things known that are not being made public.
Updated 10/4/10 (Newest Additions at End of List)