China to target journalists and foreign students with surveillance system

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Security officials in China’s Henan Province are working on a new surveillance system to track international students, journalists and other “suspicious people.” This information comes from the Reuters news agency.

Reuters reviewed documents posted on the Henan government website. The documents were until recently publicly available online.

Henan is at the center of China. It is the third province of the country in terms of population.

A document released in July explained the plans for the Henan system. The document says the system will involve 3,000 facial recognition cameras that connect to national and local databases. The system will create files on journalists, international students and others.

The document shows that the government paid Chinese technology company Neusoft $ 782,000 on September 17. The company had two months to build the system. Reuters could not confirm whether the system is currently operational.

China is building what security experts describe as one of the most advanced surveillance technology networks in the world. The country already has millions of cameras in public places and increasingly uses facial recognition technology and mobile phones. followed.

US-based surveillance research firm IPVM has been following China’s growing surveillance network closely. He said the Henan document was remarkable because it named journalists as targets and showed how public security officials could find them quickly and stop them from working.

The document was no longer publicly available on November 29.

One of Neusoft’s office buildings in Beijing, China on November 24, 2021. The Chinese company has received $ 782,000 and two months to create a system that will track journalists, international students and other “suspicious people” “. (REUTERS / Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Monitoring and control

The nearly 200-page document from the Henan Public Security Department does not explain why it wants to follow journalists or international students. The document also named “women from neighboring countries who are illegal residentsLike another group of people that the system should follow.

The document states that suspicious persons must be followed and checked. He said cameras must be able to create a reliable file for people with partially covered faces. He also said that those targeted must be able to be searchable in databases using an image or searching for a facial description.

At least 2,000 officials and police will use the surveillance system.

The document says journalists will be divided into three groups: red, yellow and green, in descending order of risk. A warning will be triggered if a reporter checks into a hotel in Henan, buys a ticket or crosses the provincial border.

The document also states that the system should be able to track movements of international students through methods such as cell phone positioning and travel activities. He said students should be followed closely on important dates such as the country’s national holiday or the annual meeting of parliament.

Security cameras loom over a street as vehicles pass Beijing, China on November 25, 2021. The system will alert police and authorities if people have been grouped into. "risk" cross a border or perform other activities.  (REUTERS / Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Security cameras loom over a street as vehicles pass underneath in Beijing, China on November 25, 2021. The system will alert police and authorities if people who have been heralded as “at risk” cross a border or carry other activities. (REUTERS / Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Media control

Press freedom groups say the ruling Communist Party of China has increased its control over the media since Chinese President Xi Jinping took office in 2012.

In February, the China Foreign Correspondents Club, or FCCC, said China had used coronavirus prevention measures, fear and domestic restrictions to limit overseas reporting in 2020.

The then Chinese foreign ministry called the FCCC report “baseless.” He said China always welcomes members of the media from all countries to cover news in China when they follow the law.

I am Grégory Stachel.

Reuters reported this story. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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Words in this story

to file nm a collection of documents that contain information that you want to keep and that are stored in such a way that they can be easily found

Track v. follow and find (someone or something) especially by examining evidence

resident nm someone who lives in a particular place

ticket nm a piece of paper that allows you to attend a show, participate in an event, or travel in a vehicle


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