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China renews its citizens surveillance system

Asia @en di

China, like all authoritarian systems, has the constant need to keep under control its own citizens to monitor their behaviors, anticipate possible conflicts and find appropriate solutions to the problems.


The main obstacle, to the Asian giant, is its own size. Prepare effective monitoring standards for a billion and 375 million inhabitants is clearly not a simple task. The authority of the central government, however, have developed a new system that could make the control mechanisms most efficients.

Its name is “Grid management system” and, once implemented nationally, could allow the Chinese Communist Party to exercise a supervision ability never experienced before.

Until today, the information gathered by the Chinese authorities came from a number of different sources. Excessive diversification, combined with the frightening amount of information, made the analysis of collected data complex and confused. Over the past five years China has therefore been working on a state-of-the-art program that can streamline this analysis, relying on an orderly and consistent database.

The cornerstone of the new system is the grid administrator. On every inhabited area it is applied a grid, composed of a certain number of quadrants. In the case of a big city, the sectors could be thousands. Each official has the task to control a quadrant and the households within it, up to a maximum of two hundred.

The official collects information about each block of its competence and fill in a form which will then compose, together with the others, a huge overall database. Data may include rent prices, the number of inhabitants, their workplaces, what time you leave home and what time they came back.

The administrator also has the task of keeping eyes and ears open, to record any complaints or protests by citizens, on any topic. Each grievance is then transcribed on the database as a possible threat. The authorities, local or central, analyzing the data so aggregated, will understand if in a certain territory widespread expressions of discontent are manifesting and intervene early, before the protest mountains further. The answer will not necessarily be police; what matters, for the authorities, is the prevention of any form of organized conflict and the safeguarding of social stability.

The monitoring capacity will be an increasingly important element for the central government of China, since the slowdown in economic growth and the consolidation of a fierce industrial system seem destined to exacerbate economic and social inequality among citizens and to fuel the fire of protest.


Luca Marchesini




Luca Marchesini
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