Several economists and financial experts regard China as the emergent giant. If population trends and economic growth rates are any indication, China surpassing the U.S. as the world’s biggest economy appears an inevitability. But what’s not under question is the Asian juggernaut’s lead toward developing a bona fide surveillance state.
In a shocking expose, The New York Times did an in-depth review of Kashgar, a city near China’s western border. Historically a stop on the Silk Road, Kashgar is quite unlike most Chinese cities. Mostly home to the country’s Muslim Uyghur population, Kashgar has its own vibrant culture and rhythm.
It also suffers under a deeply-repressive surveillance state. According to the Times, almost every conceivable inch of Kashgar is littered with cameras, watching every move. As foreign journalists, the Times reporters attracted unwanted attention. In fact, every day, police officers in uniform and in civilian attire monitored their coming and going.
Of course, the Chinese government offers their own explanation for the constant shadowing. The Islamic religion contrasts sharply with Chinese customs and cultures. As a result, they must impose a strong presence on Kashgar lest it fall to radicalism and terrorism.
Although cynical, the argument has some basis in rationality. I imagine that conservatives won’t shed too many tears about the situation. However, this surveillance state is likely a blueprint for what’s coming next to your neighborhood.
China’s Surveillance State is Just the Beginning
Famously – or infamously, depending on your perspective – Winston Churchill once said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” With Kashgar, social engineers can work off a “successful” and viable strategy.
As you might imagine, China’s surveillance state wasn’t developed in a vacuum. Rather, multiple technology firms, as well as defense and security contractors have contributed to the dystopic infrastructure. Indeed, countless such firms have gotten wealthy oppressing marginalized communities.
And it is almost a perfect, albeit sick plan. With Islamic terrorism constantly on the news, most people have grown tired of this particular brand of extremism. When they hear that China is actively oppressing the Muslim Uyghur population, I dare say that subconsciously, the overriding emotion isn’t sympathy, but perhaps admiration.
Here we have China, the world’s second-largest economy “taking care of business.” I’m certain that several folks silently wish that our government would perform similar actions against perceived troublesome communities.
I’m not sure about which communities will suffer the spotlight, but the surveillance state is coming. China’s military industrial complex has grown rich monitoring and harassing their own people. Undoubtedly, our own defense-contractor networks have looked toward the Asian giant with envious eyes.
However, our collective inability to call out injustices that don’t directly impact us will ultimately ruin us. It’s easier to stop a crisis when it’s manageable, not when it has gone ablaze.