China Turns TVs and Mobile Phones in Villages Into Surveillance Terminals

The suspects did not know that their street fight was being watched at home and on phones by their fellow villagers, whose television sets and mobiles were connected to surveillance cameras placed around the rural neighborhood through streaming boxes and apps. A villager who had witnessed the entire incident on his TV reported it to the police simply by pressing a button on his remote control.

This case, covered by Xinhua in late 2016, is an example of the capability of China’s new mass surveillance network in rural areas, which could eventually turn every television set and mobile phone in the countryside into a security monitoring terminal.

Xueliang, or Sharp Eyes, derived its name from the popular Chinese saying “The masses have sharp eyes,” which depicts the power of the people. Headed by the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the project is an extension of China’s Skynet surveillance network into rural areas, using artificial intelligence (AI), facial recognition and big data.

“Every household can become a monitor terminal, and every villager can be a monitor. This is in line with the CPC’s ‘mass line’ tradition, mobilizing people’s enthusiasm to boost rural security,” Wang Qiang, a specialist in non-war military actions at the National Defense University of the People’s Liberation Army, told the Global Times.

In Full Swing

For villagers who have installed streaming boxes with the Sharp…

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