In China, Big Brother is watching you, and in Beijing he just got more eyes to improve his vision. According to a report by state-run Beijing News, the capital’s police forces installed 30,000 new security cameras, ostensibly to crack down on criminal activity. The new system, building upon hundreds of thousands of cameras already in place, is intended to form a “solid prevention and control network,” according to the Beijing Public Security Bureau.
By 2010, Beijing authorities already had more 400,000 cameras providing “one hundred percent coverage” of major public areas, traffic arteries, and strategic positions, as well as 70 percent of residential zones, state-run media reported previously. Cameras that come in the newest installment have three levels of surveillance— 24 hours coverage of essential districts, busy streets, schools, business centers, etc., and timed surveillance over minor streets, the Beijing News report says.
The communist regime has long used public surveillance to monitor and crackdown activists and civil groups seen by the Party as subversive. As the 26th anniversary of the June 4th Tiananmen Square protests and massacre approaches, the upgraded security network in Beijing seems to serve a pointedly authoritarian function.
Political commentator Tang Jingyuan, speaking to Epoch Times, indicated that the enhanced surveillance system in Beijing is likely intended to pre-empt protest activities that may take place during the coming June 4th memorial period.
Beijing authorities have also made use of the surveillance system to monitor and crackdown on practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual group persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since July 1999, according to overseas Falun Gong information website Minghui.org.
Practitioners risk detention, torture, and death in custody at the hands of regime authorities for attempting to disseminate information about Falun Gong and the 16-year-old campaign aimed at crushing it. They have reported being stalked by police via the cameras, in addition to having their mobile phones tapped and homes put under direct surveillance. According to Minghui reports, Beijing train stations are equipped with surveillance technologies that can recognize the faces of Falun Gong practitioners indexed by the Public Security Bureau.