Across China, in its most crowded cities and tiniest hamlets, government officials are on an unprecedented surveillance shopping spree. The coordination of the resulting millions of cameras and other snooping technology spread across the country remains partial at best, its efficacy uncertain. Yet, despite its limitations, surveillance in China differs dramatically in both execution and scale from its practice in other parts of the world. These are among the key findings of ChinaFile’s analysis of some 76,000 government procurement notices and corresponding documents related to the purchases of surveillance technology by both central and local governments across China between 2004 and mid-May 2020—the most comprehensive accounting of China’s surveillance build-up to date.


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