China tests full-bore surveillance in Xinjiang
In the remote western city Xinjiang, the Chinese government is using new technology and humans to monitor every aspect of citizens' lives. China, which has gradually increased restrictions in the region over the last ten years in response to unrest and violent attacks, blames the need for these measures on the region's 9 million Uighurs. This Muslim ethnic minority make up nearly half of the region's population, and the government accuses them of forming separatist groups and fuelling terrorism and blames them for the actions of a small minority.
Spending on domestic security in Xinjiang rose 45% in the first half of 2017 over the same period in 2016 as Chen Quanguo, the Communist party secretary, introduced "grid-style social management" including CCTV cameras at police stations, surveillance drones that patrol the border, and widely deployed police, paramilitary troops, and "convenience police stations".
Interviews with residents and recent exiles establish that Uighurs struggle to obtain passports and that thousands have disappeared into political education centres. Other measures In August, China's top domestic security official called for adding a DNA database and "big data" to this mix. The Communist Party-controlled courts convict 99.9% of the accused, and arbitrary detention is common. Many Uighurs and other ethnic minorities have been jailed after advocating for more rights or praising Uighur culture.