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China's Xinjiang surveillance is the dystopian future nobody wants (engadget.com)
342 points by Ajedi32 on Feb 22, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 261 comments



I have read some stories during the year without Internet in Xinjiang.

In fact people can still connect to local network then, they just disconnected the link from province level ISP to Internet.

Some young mans built local websites provides movie, softwares downloads, news and bbs inside the LAN. They travels to nearest town outside Xinjiang every week by train, download new resources in net bar, bring them back in hard disk and update their websites. Nobody knows how long will the disconnection last and somebody prepared to maintain the LAN from long years. It makes me recall 20 years ago I access contents on Internet through CD-ROM in magazines.

In the end, the Internet recovered and these websites soon disappeared.


Wow. I love hearing about the persistence under those conditions. Reminds me a bit of what I've heard of Cuba, a semi-sneakernet setup.


I'm not local, but actually, there are many stories published by locals during that time, most of it are written in Chinese of course.

You can still found some of it by googling keyword "新疆断网", and Google Translate them if you interested to read.

In summary: In the first few days, people miss the access; Then, they built their own network, providing news, BBS, downloading and even online gaming services etc.

If they had enough time, I could assume they will build a complete alternative of China's Internet, just like what happened in the China's Internet then the access to the true Internet is limited.

But "enough time" is what they don't have, when the access been restored, most local websites are faded.


It’s even cooler than that. In Havana, there’s a local network via Ethernet cables strung between buildings, that you can use hacked video game consoles to play against others on, among other things!


>>For the next 10 months, web access would be almost nonexistent in Xinjiang, a vast region larger than Texas with a population of more than 20 million. It was one of the most widespread, longest internet shutdowns ever.

SpaceX's plans to launch their first set of satellites for their Starlink broadband constellation[1]. Uighers may be the first population to sign up for satellite subscriptions, although the Chinese government is probably looking for ways to extend Great Firewall[2] capabilities to satellites too. Hopefully users can afford the tentative pricing model of $750/year for a Starlink subscription.

[1] http://www.dw.com/en/spacexs-starlink-satellite-internet-its...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Firewall


Former satellite telecom engineer here, have built high capacity two way C, Ku, X and Ka band earth stations. Two big problems with China:

1. Smuggle rooftop CPE into country? Manufacture domestically in grey market factories?

2. Very low cost for Chinese law enforcement, in Xinjiang, to buy and use portable spectrum analyzers to locate the Tx frequencies coming from a 30cm-50cm sized rooftop phase array antenna, aimed at the sky. To be a viable satellite broadband product it has to have a fairly strong Tx (in EIRP). No matter what band it is in from 10.5 up to 70GHz.


Question: Would it be similarly easy to locate such a transmitter if it were on an exceptionally busy ISM band?

Also, what if upstream transmission rate was reduced?


1) The problem with using an ISM band for earth to space is precisely because it's exceptionally noisy. You want the best possible SNR for two way satellite, either direction. With a small satellite that orbits relatively close (LEO to low MEO, compared to geostationary), which will likely have a system architecture composed of numerous focused spot beams... If you were to design a series of spot beam on the satellite body with ISM band antennas aimed at major cities all you would achieve is gathering noise.

2) Not going to help much unless the upstream is so little that's basically useless. The same antenna is used for both Rx and Tx so you still need significant gain to overcome the path loss and have sufficient link budget for the space-to-earth traffic.


It will be as easy as locating an illegal VSAT station, which are countless in big cities there.


With current geostationary-based technology any significant VSAT is easy to spot: If you want to use higher-order modulations and coding, you need gain. Which means you need at least a 1.8 to 2.4m size antenna for a serious earth station. Possibly you're confusing a small VSAT with the Rx-only TVRO type dishes which are everywhere?


Yes, they are easy to spot, and they are being spotted and their owners being jailed/executed/gutted for organs. This does not mean than an enormous amount of wealthy Chinese see their own private internet channel as a status symbol, and manufacturing of creatively styled antenna enclosures being a mid-sized industry here.

https://m.alibaba.com/product/1805114851/Beautiful-FRP-Anten...


> Uighers may be the first population to sign up for satellite subscriptions

If they can at all. Uighers can't even buy a knife without it being engraved with a QR code of their national ID number.


I recently traveled to China and went to a fairly remote area dominated by Uyghurs and didn't see anything that would indicate that level of oppression.

They seemed quite free to do what they wanted to between themselves (such as buying a knife) although I imagine their political rights wouldn't be very strong.


If you visited Seoul in 1980s you wouldn't have seen much oppression, either, unless you knew where to look. (I grew up through it, so I know.) You can live a surprisingly peaceful life through some dictatorship as long as you toe the party line and don't get too unlucky. (And if you do get unlucky, you will be quickly removed from other people's lives, so that they can continue the semblance of peaceful lives.)


The Wall Street Journal did a report on life in Xinjiang last year. It demonstrates the security check points, the "study centers", and having to get your kitchen knifes engraved with your ID:

http://www.wsj.com/video/life-inside-chinas-total-surveillan...


On a meta-note, this seems to apply to every aspect of Chinese surveillance/repression. Every time someone here reports that a website is blocked in China, someone else will reply that it works for them.


Seems to me there is a large public relations push to normalize their authoritarianism in the view of Westerners.

Then you hear about bloggers being imprisoned for pointing out corruption according to the government’s own definitions.

China’s authoritarianism looks attractive when it’s about infrastructure and efficiency, but the underside of it, the collective silencing and destruction of debate, the “blank spots” it introduces into its citizens understanding of history and the world, are truly disturbing.

China’s existential threat is an opportunity or technology which enhances its ability to control citizens but leads, in the long term, to destabilization of the regime. Could be AI, could be something else. But at some point one of these forbidden fruits will poison and what appears to be a manageable, technical problem will become a societal one that no one can control or censor.


> China’s existential threat is an opportunity or technology which enhances its ability to control citizens but leads, in the long term, to destabilization of the regime. Could be AI, could be something else. But at some point one of these forbidden fruits will poison and what appears to be a manageable, technical problem will become a societal one that no one can control or censor.

I don't understand. Can you explain that more? How does AI or other tech create something that cannot be controlled or censored? I can only see, say, facial recognition, being bad for freedom of the Chinese citizens.


Probably the law of unintended consequences. Imagine now that this makes the surveillance of the bureaucracy itself more or less infallible. Someone, or many people, now know which party officials are meeting with which, know who their mistresses are, know the places they are going to hide assets or crimes, know the people bribing them. Now you have a roadmap for corruption of the state.

If that data leaks, is hacked by a state actor and released, or becomes the tool by which bureaucrats seek to manipulate and blackmail each other, it could destabilize the party itself.


Nice example. Interesting, thanks for that.


>Seems to me there is a large public relations push to normalize their authoritarianism in the view of Westerners.

So, bigger than the push to make it appear worse than it is?

Because that has been a tactic with any competing nation/enemy du jour of the west for over a century...

Not to mention that everything is judged with US-norms and interpreted through US-preferences in all those articles (aside and above the interpretation through their national interests) -- as if, e.g. rugged individualism and puritanism -derived principles is some universal law and e.g. a collectivist spirit, or some religious-derived norms, or other such cultural ways, are by default bad.


Human rights are not US-norms, there are many pitfalls that have been detected in last couple of centuries in the US and in representative democracies all over the world. Supressing freedom of speach, basic economic freedoms, due process... lead invariably to disaster, being it dictatorships, coups, generalized corruption, etc.

There is nothing special with Chinese people that makes dictatorship good for them while it's bad for us.


>Human rights are not US-norms

In the main, they are not. But they are general platitudes, whose interpretation is left to the individual countries, and is subject to the power relations between them.

A country, then, might be seen accusing or even bombing another (supposedly) in defense of those rights, when itself doesn't follow them.

>There is nothing special with Chinese people that makes dictatorship good for them while it's bad for us.

If only it was so simple. First, there are different concepts of what's OK and what's not. A crude example: US people don't like kings. English people are OK with their (but they don't have much power there). Thailand people love them.

Then, there's selective judgement. E.g. the US can have the largest prison population (25% of the world for 5% of it's population), and the most death sentences, mass surveillance programs, arbitrary cop killings, or even torture camps off-site, but it's OK because it has "free elections" (where two parties alternate in power for 50+ years and vote for more of the same -- never mind gerrymandering). Whereas another country is portrayed as some nightmare regime for not having elections, whereas life there might be better in those other terms. Sure, there are people that complaint for all of the above, but they still happen (and have happened for decades), and few judge the government/country in whole for that or say that it must be overthrown/invaded whatever (whereas for other countries, they do).

There's also selective enforcement, e.g. in how Saudi Arabia can be a worse regime for its citizens in all of those aspects, but as an ally it's not scolded for that, nor does it face sanctions/retribution that non-favorable (i.e. competing) countries that face.

Then there's people who have no idea of world history, little understanding of diplomacy, and how fragile states can be, and what local antagonisms and powers are held back even by some "bad" at first analysis regime, that play god, intervene (to bring "democracy") and, even assuming they do that in earnest, they end up causing civil war and chaos (see Libya, Iraq, and so on). So while "There is nothing special with Chinese people that makes dictatorship good for them while it's bad for us", there could very well something special with China as a country, and it's constitution of people's, history, antagonisms, etc, that a change would unleash hell.


If only it was so simple. First, there are different concepts of what's OK and what's not. A crude example: US people don't like kings.

It is so simple because I'm not talking about US people and what they like. Not everybody in a country likes the same things... that does seem like too much simplification btw.

I'm talking about flaws that make a political system a tyranny. And they're the same for every country as History has repeteadly shown.

there could very well something special with China as a country, and it's constitution of people's, history, antagonisms, etc, that a change would unleash hell.

It's difficult, but by no means impossible to make a peaceful transition from dictatorships to democracy. There are many examples: Spain, Portugal, many South American countries, East Europe... most likely cause of hell unleashing is nothing cultural or historic, but money.

The West has been externalizing manufactures to China the same way we've been buying oil from Saudi Arabia. Those regimes are now armored with tons of money from any pressure to open.


I wonder if that kind of authoritarianism can already be qualified as fascism. Declared total unity of state, people and industry? Check. Militarism? Check. Indifference to violence? Check. Concentration camps, mass political persecutions, expansionism? All there.

When does it cross the line from bad to Hitler?


Marx called it "Bonapartism" (after Napoleon), certainly if the authority truly centered upon one leader. He wasn't for it, to say the least.


There's no line between bad and Hitler - the Nazis were bad because (in naïve, coarse terms) they crossed the line between bad and good.


So the NSA was bad - violated the laws and constitution according to the U.S. Courts, therefore we're already at Hitler? What they did was bad. On the road to Hitler, maybe, but not there yet, surely.


> When does it cross the line from bad to Hitler?

There's no line; fascism is a subset of bad, not a separate category.


It's almost like repressive regimes have departments of the government responsible for monitoring and changing the discussions of open websites.

Or maybe that's just twitter, facebook, reddit...


I haven’t found anything in this thread except the most radical and unconfirmed claims which don’t correlate with some result of corporate capitalist applications of the same technologies. Note I say result because the acts and perpetrators themselves would unsurprisingly differ in various societal structures. The sacrifices and misplacements are plenty congruent in effect and affect to warrant acknowledgement. The tone of PR and response to PR, the latter being a measure a couple degrees insulated by public interpretation, presents as nearly identical. I find nothing intriguing or enticing about observing these Huxleyan scenarios so if anyone can refute this angle, please share.


Maybe the great firewall is more akin to WSJs article-viewing mechanism(that was recently featured on HN)?


Repression in Urumqi will likely be an order of magnitude more intense than in smaller municipalities around the province. The CCP is still working off their own revolutionary playbook from the 30s and 40s, when they effected change through organization. The "right to assemble" is one of the most feared rights in China.

Enforcing QR codes on knives is one thing. The real weapon is forbidding all social media apps except for (the thoroughly government monitored) WeChat.


People can still use other apps, though it's getting tougher, but there are still other options, and if people really care more about privacy they may get a proxy and use Telegram.


I've been to Xinjiang also (Urumuqi and other parts of Beijiang). I didn't see a Uyghur get beat up or anything, but this was (a) way back in 2006 before the riots of 2009 and (b) I don't think we would notice much as tourists even IF there was something going on.

Beijing used to have a lot of Uyghurs before the 2008 Olympics, but they were mostly all driven out and not allowed to return after the event.


"Beijing used to have a lot of Uyghurs before the 2008 Olympics, but they were mostly all driven out and not allowed to return after the event." Any source on that? You can still easily see Uyghurs' barbecue stalls and restaurants in many cities including Beijing. Though security check on stations has strengthen since 2009 riot.


Well, I was living there at the time, and lived in Beijing from 2007 to 2016, I saw it happen. It was no secret either, the gov was open about the evictions. The chuan places took a super long time to recover, and it still isn’t what it was like in 2007, especially in northwest Beijing where most of migrants used to live.


The parent's comment was taken directly from the OP article.


Which is sourced from a New York Times _opinion_ piece without any documentation or second sourcing to back it up. I'm comfortable putting this in the "dubious" and/or "overblown anecdote" bin unless evidence shows otherwise.


I was curious and found this article (https://www.fastcompany.com/40510238/in-xinjiang-china-some-...) which references this series of tweets (https://twitter.com/joshchin/status/943159015994880000/photo...).


Thank you for finding that! Why didn't Engadget or the New York Times put that photo into the article? Engraving kitchen knives with your ID number sounded like hyperbole. Nothing proves it like a photo or video. Same with articles on security or privacy compromises -- you need an actual exploit before (most) people take it seriously.

Direct link to the photo:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DRbGEKdVAAAtVis?format=jpg


Typically pieces written directly by experts - instead of by journalists interviewing experts - are placed in the opinion section. The author of that piece is a historian from Georgetown who wrote a book about the region.


An article on the order that kitchen knives must be engraved with IDs with pictures of the order and the QR codes:

https://chinadigitaltimes.net/2017/10/xinjiang-household-kni...


If you were in a remote area of Xinjiang, are you sure that the locals were Uighurs and not ethnic Kazakhs? To an outsider the populations are easy to confuse, but the Kazakhs are not under the same restrictions that the Uighurs are.


Don’t forget the massive Chinese re-education camp for 120,000 uighers.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/world/2018/...


Typical HN pedantry forthcoming, but I fucking hate AMP, so here's the direct link: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/25/at-least-12000...


Enter the international politics of geosovereignty over the EM spectrum...


This is exciting news!

I wonder if this will trigger space warfare, which might push nations to invest more into space, and maybe we'll finally become space-faring species in my lifetime!


Or alternatively space warfare will trigger Kessler Syndrome, and we'll be trapped on this planet until we find a way to clean up all the debris.


The risk of Kessler Syndrome is being exaggerated a lot on HN. These new, very large satellite constellations aren't in stable orbits, they only last for a few years before decaying naturally. So even if every satellite there were to be destroyed by some magical event, the debris would re-enter the atmosphere within at most a couple of years. It would be quite bad if geostationary orbits became unusable, but there are way fewer satellites there, and GEO is becoming less important for many of its traditional applications (e.g. communication, see for example the spacex starlink project which just had its first two test satellites launched, or planet labs' constellation of small and cheap imaging satellites). Much of this is due to a reduction in launch prices and a focus on many small and cheap satellites, instead of few large and expensive ones.


You might want to double-check your claim about orbits -- everything but SpaceX's 2nd constellation is not in orbits that "only last a few years".

  Iridium: 781 km
  O3b: 8000 km
  OneWeb: 1200 km
  Starlink: 1,125 km and 340 km


Well, that's one way to do it lol. Hurry up Musk!


>Uighers may be the first population to sign up for satellite subscriptions

I doubt most people there are willing to pay a significant premium for uncensored internet. And this is assuming that the government doesn't ban/crack down on "illegal" satellite internet.


I can already see the antennas being harmonized into scrap metal.


Satellite based broadband surely is something hard to restrict, and would be nice option for Uighers. But before we declare it as the solution to problem we need to think through any risks that it can pose. There aren't going to be many providers of satellite based broadband which means prices would be high due to lack of competition. There is also the issue of traffic snooping by US government, especially if US companies going to be sole player in this field.


750 USD/yr is about 4700 RMB/yr, so that's almost 400 RMB/mo. Just guessing, but that's probably out of reach for most people.


So can anyone tell me why we should support what China is doing? Why should any entrepreneur or tech worker go there and support this government? How come China seems to get a free pass on human rights issues like this by western society?


Okay, why would the world still 'support' the U.S.? Given the U.S. and her other allies starting wars in middle east, so many innocent lives were taken. And the U.S. got away easily even no WMD found in Iraq.

Many things are partially ordered.

Normal people in Xinjiang would prefer a stable Xinjiang not some groups' idealized usually chaotic one.

Speaking of human right, raising living standards is the most pressing issue in China, and there are still many poor people in China need the help from the gov't. When they got richer, there will be more middle-class buy things from the West and the rest of the world.

Some countries can still bash China on many issues whereas making bigger deals with China at the same time.

China is still an entry level player on that.

The world cannot leave the U.S. and China and any countries on this planet even though I guess quite a few folks hate each other. Because they buy things from each other.

Money talks, if you will.


Because hypocrisy, money and self-interest go hand in hand. Why does western society support Israel, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bangladesh, and the list goes on and on. It's all self interest and mutual benefits


For the same reason the Coalition of the West, currently doing everything it can to perpetuate World War Three in the Middle East, gets away with its heinous activities: out of sight, out of mind.

Nobody cares about oppression until it directly effects them, and these days: by the time you're effected by it, its too late.

I'm less concerned with suppression of human rights in China than I am with the Imperialist destruction of civilisation that the West has been engaged in, all over the Middle East. But! That does not mean I'm not concerned about China, as an individual. Its just that there are worse things to worry about than China.


Because keeping a large diverse country stable and safe is very difficult, and a failure causes enormous tragedy. The approach that works to keep the US stable does not always work well in other countries.

To keep the billion people who live in China safe from civil war and rampant terrorism is already a great achievement -- even it comes at the expense of some nice things such as human rights. In fact, China manages to do more than just keep itself stable; it's actually improving economically. That state of affairs is a lot better than many, many countries can even dream about.

A push for human rights increases the chance of a government collapse. That's what happened in the Soviet Russia during Gorbachev. It was everyone's luck that it resulted in relatively little suffering. A similar fall of the government in Syria, Yugoslavia, Iraq, etc were absolutely horrible for the people living in those countries. It is very hard to accept even a small risk of such an event in China; the suffering it would cause is beyond imagination.

Therefore, many people are quite happy with the approach followed by the Chinese government. In fact, it gives many people a hope that China might become a little similar to Singapore. The Singapore government has some issues with human rights (of course, much more modest than China), but is still highly respected both inside and outside the country precisely due to the prosperity and safety it brought to people.

Of course, for people who absolutely prioritize human rights, this is not good enough. But such people have relatively little influence outside the Western civilization. One certainly cannot blame people who prioritize the safety and prosperity of their family above human rights, and these people seem to be by far the majority of the Chinese population.


What about the families of the 120 000 people in the re-education camp? Or the families of the people who's organs are harvested, or who are imprisoned for being mildly critical of the government? Are they safe?

It's easy to excuse horrible acts by saying it's for the greater good, but it's rarely actually the case. Chinese civilization won't collapse if they stop harvesting organs and imprisoning people who are even mildly critical of the government.


About re-education camps and imprisonment for being critical of the government.

Horrible acts are occasionally better than the alternative, if you think of the number of lives lost compared to the number of lives saved.

I am not sure that these actions by the Chinese government are perfectly justified by this argument. But I think it's possible. Often, governments fall and civil wars start from a tiny spark of seemingly innocuous political dissent that grows out of control. I am sure you'll find many examples of that in history.

The stability of Chinese society, just like the stability of any modern society, is always hanging on a thread. You may just not realize it because you (I hope) live in a country that is not drowned in blood. A small problem can easily grow into a disaster, and then no one can stop it -- look at Yugoslavia, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea, Libya, Sudan, Congo, Liberia, Georgia (ex-USSR). And these are just the ones I remember watching live, in disbelief.

About organ harvesting.

From what little I read about it, prisoners may be executed, and their organs given to people who need them for medical reasons. I assume you're not against organ transplantation, since that saves lives at no cost to their original (dead) owner. So I assume you're only against the execution of prisoners.

Opinions on capital punishment vary, even in the US. What's viewed as fair and just penalty in California or Florida, has been viewed as unreasonable cruelty and violation of human rights in Maine for well over a century. Of course you're right that in the US, most people would not be ok with executing people for political views (except state treason), and even less so if the execution is timed to make their organs available to others. However, I think you could allow a larger difference of accepted practices between two completely different countries than between states of the US.


What's up with Yugoslavia? Last war (genocide really) was stopped and it's now in one of the most peaceful periods of its history. Also, what's wrong with Georgia? The revolution there made lifes of people immeasurably better and gave the country huge push.

It seems that you are arguing in bad faith. The problem with organ harvesting isn't that they harvest them from those sentenced to death; it's the discrepancy between number of operations and organ availability and number of capital punishments.


I didn't mean that Georgia and Yugoslavia are doing badly now. I meant that the civil war there erupted from very minor issues, and it was very painful to the generation that experienced it. I have those places as examples of how easy a seemingly stable country can fall into chaos.

In a country like China, US, or Russia, it's much harder to stop a civil war or chaos, and the damage from that is immeasurably greater. So avoiding it is really important.

I didn't understand what you meant about the discrepancy. If you don't mind explaining, I'd appreciate.


The ruling ethnic elite (and fully 91.51% of the population as of 2010) are Han Chinese, and you could say they enforce somewhat of an ethnostate. Foreigners cannot become citizens even if they marry a native Chinese and contribute to their economy.


>Foreigners cannot become citizens even if they marry a native Chinese and contribute to their economy.

Well, there are a "whopping" 1500 new naturalised citizens since the passage of 1998 citizenship law :)


Pretty strong cases have been made that the Han Chinese ethnicity is an invention. This makes some sense given China's pre-CCP plethora of wildly different languages, and quite distinct appearance differences between provinces. That's hard to explain if one adopts the "majority ethnicity" view. Of course, from a practical perspective, once everyone believes the myth then it's a de facto reality

https://www.hrichina.org/en/content/4573 http://foreignpolicy.com/2010/04/13/the-myth-of-one-china/


"Han is a social construct" doesn't change the fact that they operate as a de facto ethnostate that keeps foreigners out and their more phenotypically distinct ethnic minorities out of power.


Is that rule true even if, say, a Han Chinese citizen marries as second generation USAmerican+Han person?


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationality_law_of_the_People%...

In practice, naturalizing as a Chinese national is extremely rare, even more so when the sheer population of the region is taken into account and compared to other comparable regions, such as the European Union, United States and India. Majority of foreign permanent residents simply remain that for the duration of their residency, without ever being asked or forced to naturalize. During the Fifth National Population Census (2000), only 941 naturalized citizens that do not belong to any of Communist Party of China's recognized 56 indigenous ethnic groups (which already includes Koreans, Vietnamese, and Russians)[13] were counted in China's mainland.[14] As of 2010, the total number of naturalized Chinese was only 1,448 in Mainland China, out of the population of over 1.33 billion. In 1990, there were over 3,000.[15]

More foreigners have applied for naturalization as Chinese nationals with permanent residency of Hong Kong since the handover in 1997. Among Hong Kong residents from 1997 to 2012, 3,411 Pakistanis, 3,399 Indonesians, 2,487 Indians, 1,115 Vietnamese, and 387 Filipinos have been naturalized.[16] One case of mass naturalization occurred in 2003, when less than 200 Damans, an ethnic-Nepali people who had resided in Gyirong County of Tibet for over two centuries, were granted Chinese nationality. The serial numbers on their naturalization certificates suggested that around 4,000 people (including the Damans) had naturalized as Chinese nationals in Mainland China until 2003.[17]


Yes. I don't disagree.


> A push for human rights increases the chance of a government collapse. That's what happened in the Soviet Russia during Gorbachev

Strictly, no. That was the USSR. Soviet Russia (the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) didn't experience government collapse, though it did change its name to the Russian Federation.


Yes yes, I misused the term. I meant the USSR, of course.


I always am humbled to think about the many massive wars in China that no one in the West has ever heard of—for example, the Punti Hakka Clan Wars in the 19th century which killed a million people, which is around the same number that died in the US Civil War. Similarly, in one year, 1858, the amount of opium imported into China was the same as the entire production for the decade around 2010. And in the Great Leap Forward bad policy led to tens of millions of deaths.

I personally am unsure whether the CCP is really holding back the gates against a resurgence of death and suffering on this sort of scale (after all, in its earlier years it was responsible for the Great Leap Forward). But if we are to judge by the economic growth and stability imposed upon China since then, they seem to be doing a decent job. Unfortunately I imagine it will be many decades until we can know for sure.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_opium_in_China


I agree with you completely.

In the earlier years, CCP was responsible for some of the worst suffering that the 20th century has seen; worse, it was totally without purpose. It was not even helping some people survive at the expense of others, it was just destroying millions of lives to satisfy the egos and delusions of a few leaders who were especially good at brainwashing people. Those leaders deserve to burn in hell for eternity, in my opinion.

Today's CCP, despite the continuity in the government, is very far from doing that. Of course, it wants to stay in power, as almost every government does. But I do not know whether, in staying in power, it's also helping hold back the gates of death or suffering.

As you say, the evidence so far, limited as it is, is slightly positive. China moved from one of the poorest large countries, with a horrible past, to a place where many (although not all) people are happy to return after they travelled the world.

But in truth, we'll never know for sure, since we can't see the alternate timeline of history. In a few decades, we'll merely have a bit more evidence one way or the other.

However, I do see a lot of moderate to terrible disasters that befall other countries that try to change their system of government. So I personally have a very high degree of concern about the risk that comes with such changes.


> To keep the billion people who live in China safe from civil war and rampant terrorism is already a great achievement -- even it comes at the expense of some nice things such as human rights.

Some nice things? Nice things??? What the actual lord upon almighty.


Well said. West always sees or interferes into other countries without knowing any cultural, religious or political background. And on another level that is not also different from dictatorship. I live on the other side of the China (Pakistan) and too my observation Uighers are little bit or angry (not finding good word). Few years back it was not safe to roam freely in Urumqi and everyone used to hang daggers of all king around their waist. Sometime fierce fighting might erupt on small pity things and people get slaughtered more like the situation American are having with GUNS right now.


Unfortunately there is a false equivalence in your post: you implicitly equate "prosperity of a family" with "having a huge all-powerful nation state". There is no such link; if anything, life of Russians improved after the collapse of USSR (undoubtedly in a middle term, arguably even in a short term; source: am Russian).

That equivalency is a linchpin of any aspiring fascist state. Please try and question it, you will notice that ir doesn't make much sense.


They are not always equivalent. But in the case of China, changing from the current state to some new form of government carries a high risk of a prolonged chaos, which would destroy safety and prosperity for most families.

Russia risked that chaos, but it had little choice: the USSR was a complete economic disaster. If China today was as bad economically as the USSR in 1985, a big part of my argument would disappear.

In some limited sense, I might even say that the Chinese economy today with the old regime is more promising than the Russian economy today after all the changes. And even if I'm wrong on that, still the Chinese economy is at least decent. So the people in China have a lot more to lose from chaos than the people in the USSR did.

Another thing. You're saying Russia is in a better state today than 30 years ago. Yes, but Russia is governed by a strongman, who doesn't allow much political dissent. Are you sure that without him Russia wouldn't be in chaos?

And if you think that what is going on in Russia is an acceptable compromise, then why would you be uncomfortable with the Chinese government? The difference is not that great.

By the way, authoritarian governments had been around for millennia before fascism was even a thing. I don't see why you would equate the two.


1.) Chinese government did this to itself, with the 1.3B population. China only had 500M in 1950, but the communist government condemned birth control and banned imports of contraceptives.

2.) At some point, you can't keep using the excuse "but 1 Billion people" for doing disgusting things. When you harvest prisoners' organs. When you imprison 120,000 minorities in camps. When you build an artificial island to the horror of 10+ other countries around you. When you keep threatening to invade Taiwan. When you prop up North Korea. When you monitor and censor everything.

3.) You rule out the possibility that China can have a republic or democracy. which is shameful. Granted it's low, but Authoritarian regime doesn't have to be a certainty.


1) Absolutely agree, the Chinese government after the war was absolutely horrendous. That, however, is only slightly relevant to the question of what to do today.

2) You can always use the excuse "I don't want a billion people that I care about to go through the hell that is Syria."

3) I don't rule out that possibility at all. I'm just saying the risk that it won't work seems too high given how bad the outcome would be if it doesn't work.


It's a false dichotomy, as e.g. the prospering former East Bloc countries who are now part of the EU demonstrate.


Of course it's possible. And much better examples of that are post war Japan and Germany. The changes there literally made them global leaders.

I'm not saying it's impossible. I'm saying it's risky, especially for China which hasn't had a history of being successful without an authoritarian government. And which had a terrible history of chaos when it didn't have a strong government.


What's so wrong with building an artificial island?


In today's world, many governments use nationalism to help control their domestic situation. China, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam all do that; and one way in which they do that, is by claiming some territories in the South China Sea. Other nations (like the US, Russia, etc.) are concerned about who will end up winning the argument: everyone wants their regional allies to win, and their adversaries to lose.

All these claims are just a boring old geopolitical game, which has been played over land control for as long as sovereign states existed (and it was modified only slightly from the tribal times).

There's nothing "fair" or "right" or "reasonable" about these games. It might seem as a zero-sum game since only one country can usually own a given piece of land. But actually, it's not zero-sum: each government increases its domestic popularity by yelling loudly about how the evil neighbors are taking away what "rightfully" belongs to their own nation.

If you want to read more about this, I can recommend these articles:

https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/risky-business-south-...

https://www.lawfareblog.com/south-china-sea-dispute-brief-hi...



Even the word "disputed" is too kind. The U.N. rejects the claim, which is based on fantasy (and force), only, not history. It doesn't even rise to the standard of revanchism or irredentism, which are disreputable, too.


So the short answer is, don't support China.

Long answer is

- reduce buying stuff from China.

- reduce buying stuff on aliexpress or alibaba or even amazon. try buying local

- call out leaders and entrepreneurs on social media when they are acquiescing/favorable to China (Tim Cook, Sam Altman, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, etc)

- try to start up manufacturing of hardwares in your city/state/country

- call out China's totalitarianism in your circle of influence


+1 especially with China backing North Korean regime publicly/privately


They talk about China yet still a few realize that we are as well going into that direction. CCTV are everywhere, Facebook and Google have our identities, what we like, what we look for, what will be our probable next move (also in terms of real world position) and our routines. If ever a Chinese that feel safe in his home comes to the outer world (to us) he would say "how could this nation is so undeveloped to not already have a better security likes us" and we would be amazed and reply how he does not, instead, feel so stalked in his state. But still, if we were to go on a third world nation we would ask the same and the local people would reply at us the same way as we did to the chinese.


I think Chinese are not that smart to use some fancy words like "freedom of speech" "democracy" "individual liberty" but still doing same things as all other is doing. The problem here is how some country builds narrative and justification around her actions.

Digital age is double edge sword and everyone is going to bleed under the pretext of security.


China is a one-party system in which the country is run by a single cadre of 'politicians'. There is corruption everywhere and there are Draconian laws which are applied selectively and sometimes enforced and sometimes not (e.g. half of all food stands in cities are illegal, riding motorbikes is illegal in many cities, etc.). Internet and phone calls are constantly monitored and filtered based on certain words to the extent that if you use a certain word even in a different and completely innocuous context your phone call is interrupted or your internet connection stops working. There are hundreds of political prisoners and laws are applied selectively based on your standing within the party. There are political re-education camps and critiques of the government are frequently arrested under bogus and clearly invented pretexts, are often often put under house arrest, and are constantly harassed and surveilled by all kinds of authorities. Public protests are persecuted as uprisings against the state, using various deliberately vague and overly broad laws.

The idea that the differences between China and freer countries are merely a matter of the 'narrative' is patently ridiculous. It is also false, because according to the Chinese constitution, "...citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession, and of demonstration." So yes, China officially has the same narrative, it just doesn't have any due process, has massive surveillance not even remotely comparable to Western countries, and suffers from massive corruption in the hands of a single 'party'.


I think its not "ridiculous" if you look at the outcome the narrative of fee societies is democracy which they use as weapon to destroy and plunder other countries, capture resources. I am not concerned how much a state is good with their own people but if they are using that same context to wage a war in another part of world that is so bad, uncivilized and undemocratic. For example if China start to export their socialism through force and use that to capture resources I ll be first to oppose that idea. China is massively big country with its third-world problems and new digital age issues one cannot suggest same pill as use in west.

West has lost all moral ground to become a world leader on these issues after what has happen and is happening to various middle eastern countries in recent day.

And what is current happening to these communities in China are direct side effect of West's interest in these issues and exploitation (e.g their rebel leader is current living in American) and every country has right to clean their backyard not just US or some other country.


You're offering nothing but lame excuses. You have not provided a single reason why China could not be a more democratic country with more than one party, less corruption, and more reasonable laws that are applied with due process and not selectively. The idea that more freedom and less corruptions inevitably leads to unrest is a non-sequitur. It has worked out quite well for those former East Bloc countries that are now in the EU.

You're also deviating from the topic. It is quite obviously and ostensively possible to have all these benefits for your citizens without oppressing other countries or waging unjust wars, in fact the majority of countries with a high degree of freedom, a multi-party system, and a high degree of due process are currently not waging any wars at all.


Give me example of one single country that is not waging any war or complicit of it ?

The other point is why the world should go by force for democracy?

Democracy is freedom, I don't like that democracy I am happy with dictatorship why someone should cry ? ( not pointing at you).

Lets say whole population is happy with their dictator and living a decent life,unless someone is arming rebels and inciting political turmoil by funding innocent people. Why you should interfere in their lives ?

So the question here is , is this political turmoil in China is happening purely by the desire of local populace or someone is funding because they have a hidden agenda ? As we have seen in recent year and seeing this elsewhere e.g in Syria where Us and West are engaged , this has not been just local desire but neighbors and everyone else interested in certain Geo-political goals, which kills the idea and need for democracy.

Democracy should come by learning by indigenous people, for indigenous it should not be "MY" desire or someone else desire.


> Give me example of one single country that is not waging any war or complicit of it ?

Almost every democratic country if you hadn't changed the topic again. We were talking about waging a war, not "being complicit" or small-scale interventions like e.g. currently in Afghanistan. For instance, sending fighter jets equipped with cameras instead of bombs is not "waging a war".

I also don't think that it is fair to portray e.g. international alliances against ISIS as evil and unjust wars.

> The other point is why the world should go by force for democracy?

We shouldn't. I said that it's in the genuine interest of all Chinese people to get rid of their one-party system, get due process and fairer application of law, and have a multi-party system.

>Democracy is freedom, I don't like that democracy I am happy with dictatorship why someone should cry ? ( not pointing at you).

Because democracy is not primarily about your personal freedom, it's about maximizing freedom for everyone and also about due process and separation of powers. Being happy about dictatorship is not a consistent political position. If you benefit from a dictatorship, then it lies in the nature of dictatorships without due process that that's a mere coincidence for you. You could just as well be sent to a Gulag and tortured in besaid dictatorship. But the fact that you're personally happy with some particular dictatorship is not a valid argument for dictatorship as a form of governance. Nobody really wants dictatorship in general, if at all you might find a dictatorship from which you benefit somewhat desirable. I am not for democracy, because I personally benefit from it.

Why crying about it? Because the dictatorship you crave will invariably be bad for many other people, and normally functioning human beings are generally capable of compassion and empathy.

Lets say whole population is happy with their dictator and living a decent life,unless someone is arming rebels and inciting political turmoil by funding innocent people. Why you should interfere in their lives ?

You should not, at least not from the outside, and I have never argued for that.

However, the whole argument is fairly academic, because the vast majority of people are simply not happy with dictatorships. It's just easy for countries without due process and lots of terror and intimidation to mask this, e.g. people in surveys will not tell you the truth. In fact, the more totalitarian the country, the less critical they will appear to be of their leaders. Of course, people under Pol Pot were afraid of making critical remarks, because they did not want to be suffocated with a plastic bag.

That being said, since you were deviating again, I have not claimed that China is a dictatorship.

Democracy should come by learning by indigenous people, for indigenous it should not be "MY" desire or someone else desire.

I believe there is ample evidence, both historical and individual, that democracy is everyone's desire upon sincere reflection. Or, at least there is a historic development towards democracy that has had positive effects that are impossible to deny. That's a mere tendency, of course, you will always find naysayers. There is also a lot of disagreement about how to get there, and that's quite reasonable.


Although I agree, that democracy is preferable over dictatorship, if everything else stays equal, but many,many people would prefer to live n a low corruption/good healthcare/good education authoritarian Belarus than in freer but more poor and corrupt Ukraine or Kyrgyzstan.


Whilst I agree, such conviction of argument does raise my alarm bells. I feel just a little too comfortable in the knowledge that China is of a distinctly "worse" political category. Actually, if I'm honest, this sort of arguing reminds me of fighting with my brother, I so needed to be right because I didn't want to face the fact that he was basically just a superficially different version of me. Ultimately what helps, is facing with the intention of understanding, the brutal reality of what it is to be a human with unchecked power, regardless of their nationality.


> Whilst I agree, such conviction of argument does raise my alarm bells.

Believing something that is true shouldn't be counted against oneself.


It's pretty easy to determine that the situation in the 'west' is different.

How many times in discussions on Chinese or Russian subversion or suppression of internal debate and freedom do you see posts trying to justify it or neutralize criticism using 'whatabout' tactics, aiming to change the discussion by pointing the finger somewhere else? Every time, because the behaviour can't be justified or supported on it's own terms. Whataboutism is pretty much the only justification available.

How many times in stories on US, British, etc internet surveillance or erosion of freedoms do you see someone say 'whatabout' another country doing the same thing and trying to justify our loss of freedoms based on other country's behaviour? Never. It just doesn't happen because American, British and other democratic societies look to their own democratic institutions, processes and freedoms to resolve these issues. We might look at loss of freedom elsewhere as a warning, but never as a justification that it's ok for us to lose them too. There are actual things we can do to protect our rights, so there's no need to wring our hands and say actually it's ok because somebody else is doing it. We don't give a fig what somebody else is doing, when it comes to protecting our own right and values, and nor should anyone else.

That's an easy rule of thumb for telling if a society is generally free or not.


I'm pretty sure that's exactly what the Chinese authorities want. What everyone else wants isn't their concern.


they actually have a very tense, tenuous relationship with their citeznry and its propensity for public demonstrations that keep the government in line. there is a breaking point they know they have to avoid.

> The number of annual protests has grown steadily since the early 1990s, from approximately 8700 “mass group incidents” in 1993[1] to over 87,000 in 2005.[2] In 2006, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences estimated the number of annual mass incidents to exceed 90,000, and Chinese sociology professor Sun Liping estimated 180,000 incidents in 2010.[3][4] Mass incidents are defined broadly as "planned or impromptu gathering that forms because of internal contradictions", and can include public speeches or demonstrations, physical clashes, public airings of grievances, and other group behaviors that are seen as disrupting social stability.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protest_and_dissent_in_China


At least a few years ago, de Toqueville's 'On the Old Regime and the Revolution' was on the Communist Party's reading list [1].

The Chinese Civil War of '49 and then the Cultural Revolution (where most of the then-current Party leadership suffered) is still within living memory of the ruling class. Of course they understand that there is an implicit contract between themselves and the rest of society, even if it the terms of the deal are not arrived at in a democratic fashion.

The question is not whether China will eventually devolve more political power to the populace——that is almost a given, considering the growing economic and cultural power of the middle class; it's whether this will happen suddenly and violently via another revolution, or gradually by the Party bringing dissenting voices into the fold widening the circle of acceptable, public political discourse.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/china/2013/01/15/chinese-societ...


> The question is not whether China will eventually devolve more political power to the populace——that is almost a given

This idea was popular in 2013 when this article was written, but Xi's regime has indeed shown that greater prosperity can be had with increased repression. Turmoil in America only underlines this.


The idea that lack of direct political participation must entail repression is very much a modern Western mindset.

As a Chinese-American, I see both sides of this issue, but China's own long political development sees the role of the state explicitly as a paternal protector. The state represents and protects the people's interests, without their explicit participation.

This is obviously alien to a modern Western mindset that sees political legitimacy as only deriving from elections, but that means that even early modern states (e.g. 19th century Britain or the US) is politically illegitimate since the franchise was restricted to a very small slice of property owners.


To frame democracy as a "Western mindset" is naive, democracy is a global value devoid of geographical distinctions. This kind of thinking is also used as a defensive tool against real debate about the morality of what China does.

What Britain or the US did in the 18th or 19th century is not relevant to the discussion, what matters is today.

It is not a Western mindset to think that lack of participation in the political process leads to repression. Lack of participation, or the inability to participate, is in itself a form of repression.


> To frame democracy as a "Western mindset" is naive

Who invented democracy? Who were its earliest proponents, and later 'rediscoverers' and adopters during the late Enlightenment? Does not the culture and the government co-evolve with one another over time, such that they form a single functioning unit?

On the contrary, it is the idea that the formal system of government can be completely shorn of the context of the society and the cultural mores from which they arise that is naive.

The failure of the majority of states outside of the West to be democracies in actual fact even when they have the formal process of elections should demonstrate that simply imposing a foreign system of rule on a nation that has no experience with it is highly unwise. How well have the democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan turned out?

I find it pretty surprising that you speak with such certainty and conviction about Western liberal democracy when the

I'll leave you with this quote from Aristotle, who certainly believed there was a relationship between the people and the form of governance they could attain:

"The nations inhabiting the cold places and those of Europe are full of spirit but somewhat deficient in intelligence and skill, so that they continue comparatively free, but lacking in political organization and capacity to rule their neighbors. The peoples of Asia on the other hand are intelligent and skillful in temperament, but lack spirit, so that they are in continuous subjection and slavery. But the Greek race participates in both characters, just as it occupies the middle position geographically, for it is both spirited and intelligent; hence it continues to be free and to have very good political institutions, and to be capable of ruling all mankind if it attains constitutional unity." [1]

Agree or disagree with his (perhaps chauvinistic) assessment of his own people, but he at least realizes that governmental forms do not exist in a vacuum.

> This kind of thinking is also used as a defensive tool against real debate about the morality of what China does.

I would love to have a moral debate about what China is doing, but that would require moving beyond a reactive 'they are not a democracy, and hence automatically wrong'. I am saying this as a Chinese person whose family personally greatly suffered during the Cultural Revolution.

Let's have a real conversation about, what the proper role of government is, what its ends ought to be, and how that interacts with the experience of its host civilization and its history.

[1] http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%...


I think that cause effect is backwards, China is showing that given greater prosperity, people tolerate increased repression. We will see how it fares when China hits its next big recession/depression.


> greater prosperity can be had with increased repressio

for now, anyway. plenty of looming societal issues remain uncertain until we see how they unfold: their aging population, lack of social safety net, mounting domestic unrest, increasing lack of labor cost competitiveness, etc.


> greater prosperity can be had with increased repression.

Fake prosperity between 2012 and now. 300%+ debt ratio. High government debt. High (state) corporate debt. creeping up Household debt. Several provinces disclosed 20-30% fake revenue. Xi's government now stresses stability over GDP growth (sign of weakness). Several high-level Chinese economists warn of an economic crash in China.


Building cities and state infrastructure costs money. China is in practice following pretty standard Keynesian thought. Educated people can and do disagree about whether it will work, but the shift to stability over GDP is not a sign of weakness... It's exactly what western observers and doomsayers for years have been asking for. China's permabears will keep complaining, of course, as is their right, but that doesn't change facts on the ground.



Let's truly genuinely hope this perspective is correct. This argument, or something like it, have been conventional wisdom to some for decades.

And it would be so good -- for the people of China more than for anyone else. But it would be good for us all.

Yet, it's difficult to watch Xi's tenure unfold and not have worrisome questions about the inevitability of this result, especially given new technologies available to potentially aspiring totalitarians.


There's noting special about it. This is true for all social hierarchy, plans that are important to the people at the top are implemented.


Unrelated, but I'm always amazed when I hear about these massive Chinese cities for the first time. Apparently Urumqi has a population of 3.5 million.


Recently went to Xian which locals had described to be as being more of a small village feel. A mere 8m population.


Xian at least has thousands of years of history. On the bullet train in China you’ll often pass by cities of millions of people which might have been mere hamlets a generation or two ago. The size of China, its economic renaissance and the fact that good jobs in China are almost exclusively found in urban areas has led to a vast migration towards city centers which is pretty much unprecedented in human history.


It's almost as if growing cities are economic growth multipliers and perhaps even a key part of that whole civilization thing.

Meanwhile over here it's taken as assumed that cities cannot and/or should not grow ever again.


> Meanwhile over here it's taken as assumed that cities cannot and/or should not grow ever again.

How do you mean?


Probably referring to the hatred many in the United States have towards urban development. In pretty much every city in the United States development has been slowed to a crawl due to zoning restrictions, despite increasing huge demand. People love to use SF as a prime example but I will point to my city, Somerville MA where rents have been soaring, yet there are only 22 lots that meet the residential zoning requirements. All other lots are over the density requirement. So practically any future development has to decrease the number of people who can live in the city, rather then increase it. http://cityobservatory.org/the-illegal-city-of-somerville/


That is weird, and saddening. As a lifelong city dweller (primarily Chicago) I love the character, chaos, and depth of dense cities. Visiting some of the big cities in China, I was really taken with their bustling nature, the crowded street markets, the densely packed housing, and the diverse architecture. They seem to me so much more "alive" than the sprawling, strip-mall-filled anonymity of many American cities. I had chalked it up to American's desire for personal space, proliferation of cars and scarcity of public transit options. But I hadn't really considered the effects of zoning and other legal restrictions.


It's shit. It might be fine if you're living in a luxury flat but otherwise a lot of Chinese cities are shit. Maybe not in 30 years when they develop further but I don't understand how anyone could want to live there. I'm excluding the wealthy areas of Shanghai in these, I'm talking more of the tier 2/3 places.


When people rhapsodize about the aesthetic appeal of densely packed cities, I always wonder how that translates into quality of life for the majority of residents, especially those below the poverty line.


Poverty exists within cities and without. I’m not sure how suburban sprawl is helpful to those in poverty.


Maybe it doesn't cause poverty so much as it allows you to see poverty, so it's natural to assume that cities must have created it.


> In pretty much every city in the United States development has been slowed to a crawl

You don't think that's far too much of a generalization?

Houston has added a city the size of San Francisco since 1980. Austin and Charlotte doubled in size since 1990, and are both now comparable to SF in size. Las Vegas grew by 140% or so since 1990. Seattle's population curve goes vertical the last decade, they added about 16% to their population in seven years, and 50% expansion since 1990.

New York has added a million people in 20 years, after five decades of stagnation. There's plenty of development going on there.


There overwhelming evidence that labor mobility has decreased drastically over recent decades, that this is a tremendous drag on economic growth, and that local land use restrictions are a primary cause of it.

http://neighborhoodeffects.mercatus.org/2017/01/26/why-the-l...

https://www.citylab.com/equity/2017/06/the-other-side-of-har...


entrenched building zoning and building restrictions that mop up massive amounts of economic potential in rent (see the housing crises throughout the major cities of the US)


America's and Europe's urbanization rates have basically stabilized. I'm not sure where growth would come from, except via immigration and from other less prosperous cities (e.g. moving from Detroit to Seattle).


> America's and Europe's urbanization rates have basically stabilized.

That's a lot more true in parts of Western Europe than the US. The US has seen a burst of further urbanization, after a few decades of flatlining. Cities like Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, Austin, San Jose, San Diego, Charlotte, Denver, El Paso, Orlando, etc. are still 'young' in their most recent expansions.

Charlotte NC, for example, has doubled in size since 1990, as has Raleigh NC. Charlotte is now comparable to Frankfurt and Stockholm in size.

Or take Gilbert, Scottdale and Chandler Arizona, as part of the Phoenix metro area. Gilbert has gone from barely existing (30k), to 240,000 since 1990. Scottsdale nearly doubled. Phoenix has grown by 60% since 1990, adding about 600k people.

Urbanization in the US over time:

1970: 73.6% -> 1980: 73.74% -> 1990: 75% -> 2000: 79% -> 2015: 81.6%

That urbanization increase since 1980 is nearly equivalent to three NYC size cities.

On urbanization, the US now matches up with the UK (83%), Spain (80%, France (80%) and Norway; is far ahead of Italy (69%), ahead of Germany (75%); and far behind the Netherlands (91%) and Denmark (88%).

I'd expect US urbanization to continue. It's likely heading toward 85% in the next 20 years. The income and opportunity is extreme between rural and urban in the US, that will continue to drain the rural areas (which almost universally have zero population growth).


But these are generally happening between cities, and near-city suburbs, not from rural areas or exurbs. Basically, people are trading some form of urbanization for another, leading to huge imbalances in our infrastructure while our urbanization rate stays basically the same (maybe inching up 1% every ten years as it has done for the last 30).


That's refuted by the data I included showing the increase in urbanization since 1980. From 73% to roughly 82% in 2018. As I noted, that's equivalent to three New Yorks.

The urbanization shift is equivalent to 27 million people (versus if it had stayed at 73.x%). Or 30 San Franciscos.


The last 30 years, 1990, 2000, 2010, ... 2020. There was a weird abnormally big leap between 1980 and 1990, but then it was super low 1970 and 1980 (only .1%!). So while growth was from 73.7% to 80.7% between 1980 and 2010 (a definite cherry pick), it was only from 78% to 80.7% from 1990 to 2010! Now say we are at 82% (predicted) now in 2018, I don't see how we are going anywhere near the 1980-1990 rate for the 2020 census.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urbanization_in_the_United_Sta...


there are a number of mounting structural dangers though. Due to decades of the one child policy, their population is rapidly aging, without a strong youth base to replace them. China, though nominally a communist state, has no social safety net akin to Social Security for the elderly.

Additionally, their economic rise has contributed to higher wages and hence a relatively weaker position in the price sensitive globalized labor force, and they are beginning to lose out to more competitive countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and India. Since exports make up such a fractionally large portion of their GDP, this is another hazard.


Hence their concerted focus on upgrading and automating their industry. They're aiming for more production for domestic consumption (enticing their middle class buy Chinese rather than foreign brands) and higher value-added exports.


I've mentioned this elsewhere — everyone points to automation as the savior, but where is the Chinese Bosch? As far as I can tell, they still rely primarily on companies from the US, Japan, and Germany for their automated heavy industry.


Do they need their own Bosch? Yet? Automation is automation, and it doesn't matter if they use Japanese parts, copy Japanese parts, or make their own. I believe it's almost inevitable that Chinese companies will take places at the forefront of automation technology within a few years, probably driven by AI research where they're at the forefront. But their success does not hinge on that


Xian's only the 15th largest city in China. No big deal.


A side note: The terrorist attacks (what the CCP states) in Xinjiang was rampant. Every years hundreds of innocent people were killed. And due to media control, those reports seldom see publicity outside of small forums in the first a few months following the events.

ps1: Whether or not those attacks are done by terrorists, or oppressed minorities, I have no comments. ps2: This not a defend. Merely suggest one of the motivating factors. Whether or not CCP intentionally let that happen so they can do this, I have no comments.


"...Whether or not those attacks are done by terrorists, or oppressed minorities, I have no comments...."

???

If "...oppressed minorities..." commit acts wherein "...hundreds of innocent people were killed..."

aren't they "terrorists"?

Or am I thinking about this whole thing wrong?


One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. I think the parent post simply meant that they were not passing judgment on the justification of the violence.


If those attackers attacked police or gov't, they may call themselves a freedom figher. But If a guy randomly kills innocent people to show their agendas, he is definitely a terrorist, which was what happened in Xinjiang and other cities in China by some terrorist groups. Unfortunately, there was some western press quoted terrorist when they were covering those attacks.


You are entering a very dangerous territory. The terrorists in US and west can genuinely believe they are oppressed as well. To use violence to advance their own agenda on unrelated people is nevertheless evil.


A more neutral definition of terrorism is that it is organized violence for a political end that is directed largely at the population in order to make them feel fear. This is in contrast to usual military action, which is directed mainly at the military on the other side.


Under this definition, were Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings acts of war or terrorism? I am sure many military actions conducted today, even those by US and allies would fall under your definition of terrorism.


Pretty sure OP was just adding that in so that they'd avoid needless discussion regarding emotionally-charged labels like 'terrorist'. The term almost certainly applies, but lets talk about the acts and the environment itself, rather than perpetrators of horrific acts and their presumable-but-technically-unknown motivations.


most people doesn't recognise that this is the "I don't have anything to hide"-folks wetest dream.

this kind of article is just free advertisement for the companies selling this crap.

even here, the top comment now is about how someone never felt safer in China, probably because they " have nothing to hide"


What the article is forgetting is the severity of the conflict with its potent mix of race, religion and by-gone nationality.

To me the parallels to the Uyghurs in Xinjiang are the conflicts involving the Rohingyas in Myanmar, the "deep south" in Thailand, and maybe the "pirates" around Malaysia and Philippines.

These conflicts are all being handled with far heavier hand than what China is doing in Xinjiang.


There has never been internet shutdown in Kenya. TV stations were switched off but never internet.

If China establishes autocratic regimes in the global South it will seize those governments and leverage that to gain power over the West. It's myopic to think their goal is anything less than absolute domination of the world.


It's probably safe to assume that China wants to increase its influence, but accusing any country of plans of 'absolute domination' based on domestic surveillance probably says more about the psyche of the accuser than anyone else


The article talks about exporting the tech to the global South, not me. The goal not being in the export itself but in the subjugation of those people under a central point of capture. From there, it's obvious who remains: the West.


Where would you say China is trying to go in the long-term, internationally? I get the impression it wants to be the global hegemon, but perhaps I am wrong.


Based on what? What has China done in the last 40 years that would even close to imply that?

There is still a part of China that is not even controlled by China (Taiwan). They are surrounded by lots of other powerful countries, Russia, India, Japan and so on. The US military is driving around right in front of them.

They are getting accused of wanting global hegemony based on thing like building bases in the South China Sea. Something that other countries have done before China.

Seems to me if anything China has behaved incredibly passive. Maybe in the back of their minds they have the idea that this strategy will lead to some kind of soft hegemony but that is just speculation based on nothing.


If an oppressive government can shut down internet access whenever they want, then it seems the real problem is losing paper news to digital.

I'd say a decentralized mesh network is a step in the right direction, but if there's spyware on all the phones; that doesn't help as much.


I am sure Dept X has plans ready, just waiting for the opportune moment to implement it in USA. To protect the children or something...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_number-plate_recogni...

Mobile ANPR is becoming a significant component of municipal predictive policing strategies and intelligence gathering, as well as for recovery of stolen vehicles, identification of wanted felons, and revenue collection from individuals who are delinquent on city or state taxes or fines, or monitoring for "Amber Alerts". With the widespread implementation of this technology, many U.S. states now issue misdemeanor citations of up to $500 when a license plate is identified as expired or on the incorrect vehicle. Successfully recognized plates may be matched against databases including "wanted person", "protection order", missing person, gang member, known and suspected terrorist, supervised release, immigration violator, and National Sex Offender lists. In addition to the real-time processing of license plate numbers, ANPR systems in the US collect (and can indefinitely store) data from each license plate capture. Images, dates, times and GPS coordinates can be stockpiled and can help place a suspect at a scene, aid in witness identification, pattern recognition or the tracking of individuals.


You guys may be concerned about China today. However, in the long run, with AI the humans are building a zoo for themselves.

When machines are able to complete every task better, win every strategic confrontation, and so on, there will not be any point for humans to make any significant contributions - including art. Even video and audio will be faked easily.

When their every move can be scrutinized and next moves easily predicted, they can be easily caged and controlled. Raised to go along with anything, because "resistance is futile".

The world is being turned into monocultures and farms. And humans are building a zoo for themselves. No one will really run the place in the end.


To add to the irony, we are the ones doing it.


China's quite notorious for sending back North Korean defectors (and cooperating with NK spy agencies for this)

this isn't going well...


On the plus side, I just visited China last month and never felt safer. Before you would wear your backpack on the front of your chest when taking public transportation for fear of thieves. Now, with surveillance everywhere (and random ID checks at subways), you can freely wear your backpack on your back where it belongs without fear of theft.


There are plenty of western “free countries” with little-to-no street crime. It’s not an either-or situation.


And non-Western - just look at Japan.


I have been thinking lately about the purpose of crime. Obviously people get robbed and bad things happen, but what would happen in a society without crime? is it possible that crime has a larger purpose?


It's hard when there are so many laws on the books that it's almost impossible to not break one here and there.

"Crime" is a very loose term. Things like robbery and assault are obvious but there are a lot of laws out there that have no real "victim", or are enforced only when the powers that be have an inclination to.


stagnation. without risk there is no progress.


would you say that without crime humans would be complacent?


without fear of theft, political organizational, labour bargaining groups, religious freedom, etc, etc.


Ah, unfortunately, there are many theft and violence in quite a few big Western cities.


What is this fear of thieves thing? Is that some sort of line folks are selling, everyone in the west is afraid of .... thieves?


That's the general feeling of the population as well -- as explained by my Chinese friends.

They're okay with the surveillance if it's going to prevent terrorist attacks or even more localised crime.

And most of the citizens couldn't even be bothered about losing access to non-Chinese Internet websites. The Chinese ones are good enough or sometimes even better, tailored to their tastes.


You're not wrong, article looks at it from a Western viewpoint. This surveillance is actually not new. Its a throwback to imperial China, with technology added to it. I can imagine a lot of Chinese prefer it to lawlessness.

It does cost vast amounts of money though. China spends more on surveillance and the police than the entire military budget.


I imagine there are some shades of grey between 'authoritarian surveillance' and 'lawlessness'...


> I can imagine a lot of Chinese prefer it to lawlessness.

But would they prefer even more to have a choice in the matter?


[flagged]


Please stop abusing this community. We ban single-purpose accounts with an agenda and we ban accounts that won't post civilly.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> borderline autistic

Hi, I'm autistic and I'd appreciate it if you didn't use me as a synonym for "stupid," thanks.


North Korea is even safer, I'm willing to bet. Wanna live there?


What nobody wants is crushing poverty like in India, and Africa. I'm sure those peasants would consider life in China to be wonderful.


This seems as good an article as any to ask: in people's opinion here, is there any risk for Americans going to China and continuing normal Internet browsing activities? (I know the following is not the best attitude, but I really do mean on a "nothing to hide" basis.)

Someone in this thread mentioned $4.7 billion (quoted as 30B RMB in this thread) on the security and surveillance, for just Xinjiang, which has a population of 21m give or take, out of China's 1.37 billion people. That's obviously a lot of money (for comparison the entire US intelligence budget is maybe an order of magnitude higher annually), so I'd assume that when in China, and maybe outside of it, basically whatever you do can/could be monitored.

I get the impression that if you're not, I don't know, doing detailed dissident planning it's not an issue, so this would seem the same standard as pretty free Americans would expect. In America, yeah if you spend 18 months downloading textbooks on bombmaking, buying laboratory equipment on Amazon, and then eventually industrial sizes of fertilizer, ammonia, and remote demolition detonators on Ali Express, while getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bitcoin from seling a 1-page haircut ebook which has 1 review stating it was useless, while you spend most of your time travelling between Syria and Washington DC, where you're at home on the dark net all day over tor, reading arabic language anti-American calls for terrorism and jihad, you would expect to get a visit at some point between when you start that journey and when you're on skype bidding your mother back home goodbye, saying that you will die for a worthy cause in your Jihad against the U.S. imperialist pigs and asking for her bank account information. I mean sure everything I've just stated (literally the entirety of this paragraph) falls under freedom of expression, freedom of thinking, and freedom of commerce, but as a practical matter you'd expect to be stopped at some point.

So is that the standard? If I go to Beijing but I'm not spending eighteen months travelling between Beijing and Taiwan reading about how to arm rebels for a military coup, how to get what you want by taking political hostages, and taking geographic survey equipment across the street from state buildings in Beijing with a notebook and a "Insurrection for Dummies: How to lead an armed rebellion and communicate with your followers while toppling Beijing's military hegemony" book, as an American could I expect to continue my normal Internet browsing (including reading or posting about "sensitive topics" or whatever)?

I mean on an everyday basis. Note that my Chinese example didn't include purchasing fertilizer and detonators, so I get that the standard could be a bit lower - but does normal American online behavior count? Or would an American not be able to enjoy their usual online freedom without getting lots of problems?


Without pointing a finger, I will say I would be really surprised if this discussion - and HN in general - was not subject to a discourse control by paid state agents (sophisticated trolls) from China and elsewhere. Assuming that it is, what can we learn or do to miting such influences? Asking for independent source to all claims is obviously the first step.


I don't know about HN - I'm not sure its users are good targets for manipulation, but I'm starting to see lots of what I suspect is political activity in Reddit and BBC (the comments are trash, but the user activity comes across as very organised)


So I've been in trouble on HN (probably rightly so) once before for pointing the finger. With that in mind...

The problem is that 'their' only objective is to undermine 'our' goal of having a balanced, honest discussion that arrives at some kind of valid, valuable truth. If a troll or discourse control agent can undermine that process, then they've 'won'.

And it's pretty easy to do. Actually, demanding sources is a great tool for undermining absolutely any discussion you like.

Someone claims something you don't like? Demand evidence/sources. If they can't produce them, you've won. If they can produce them, call into question the bias or veracity of the sources. You win again.

The basic tools of the troll trade are well known - derail, distract, discuss to death. Question motives and bias, use whataboutism, sling mud, lead a discussion into the long grass, debate every single point to death, ad hominem attacks, play the victim...

I think communities perhaps need to become more aware of those discussion patterns and vote according to whether something is using troll tools, rather than whether you agree/disagree.


I wish we had troll armies going around demanding sources everywhere. That would greatly elevate the level of discussion on most forums. If you don't have unbiased scientific sources to backup your claim, I don't see how you will convince me your ideas have merit.


In an ideal world, sources are great, but there’s a bunch of practical problems with the idea that everything, anyone says online should have some sort of attribution:

* How do I attach sources for my opinions or logical/moral arguments?

* I could spend an hour collating sources and writing a solid, reference based comment. A troll could destroy me in seconds with zero effort by claiming my sources are CIA funded or inherently biased.

* The internet has sources for anything you want to believe. I could easily google a bunch of authoritative looking sources confirming Flat Earth Theory, and then how will you refute them? Spend another hour discrediting those sources? And then what? I write a quick comment about how you’re obviously biased because of your media bubble.

Remember a troll doesn’t need to win the argument - he just needs to (a) cast enough shade so that an observer feels like maybe it’s subjective and neither viewpoint is correct, and (b) make you feel like it’s not worth the effort and hassle to argue with these morons.

If I (a troll) can write two x 1 minute comments that cause you to waste 2 hours of your time proving nothing, I’ve won.


You are missing the fact that science in general is vulnerable to the same pattern of disruption. Discourse quickly grows bigger than can be handled by any single human. Distrust is no basis for communication. Of course a healthy skepticism is part of the scientific method, but you can't do basic research on the internet, except in terms of mass communication, which is a young field so arguably an area of experts. So states do have a positive incentive for discourse control, too. It starts with distribution of knowledge. The same hand that feeds, might beat, if it is bitten. Divide and conquer is the basic mechanism of control. And control is a basic human need. But science in general is, as said, too big for any single individual. So you have a few exceptionally knowledgeable individuals who bare a huge load of responsibility.[1] That's just what it is, how society could grow so large in the first place. And as it keeps growing while the space is limited, the pressure increases. And the result can seem rather arbitrary, so there can't be a single closed form solution to source your truth from. Rather, you need to and need to be allowed to make up your own mind.

[1] Edit: But they can't respond to everyone and thus accountability is forsaken in the name of progress ...? OK, that doesn't sound right. There is more to the lack of accountability. Which is perhaps just a lack of proper organisation, which, given the size of the world, might be understandable


I believe that the only way to counter concerted trolling/discourse control is by heavy human moderation in combination with IP banning and eventually even shadow-banning. As Slashdot is in my opinion illustrating, merely having a decent moderation and meta-moderation system might not be enough. You need to permban IPs of identified trolls, and in the end it doesn't matter whether these are part of a concerted effort or just individuals who post toxic content.

Hobby researchers on Reddit have found out that they were able to push a story to the frontpage by spending a very low amount of money (about 200 USD if I remember correctly) for some puppet accounts and making sure that the very early moderation upvotes their story and downvotes critique. That gives us an idea how hard it is to counter concerted efforts of influencing discussions.


I myself am not aware of all such patterns. Where can I learn more?

Now that I think of it, an anonymous discussion is probably not protectable from well sponsored discourse control attempts.


That is the real problem with the liberty now. And I think liberty is dead under the pile of fake news generated by various parties interested in any issue. From war on terror to democracy and nuclear weapons the "agents" as you called, generates such a perception that we cannot escape, let alone our psychological biases and national, political and religious affiliations -- Welcome to the age of disinformation


Whoa, that was a depressing stance. Whereas you point to several serious problems I would hope the absolutism is there for rhetoric reasons! Personally I think it may still be argued that the information age holds the potential for greater knowledge than ever before, and factual liberty (as opposed to seeming) is very much a part of that. It just may not come quite as easy and automatically as perhaps once perceived.


Yes its depressing to see lot of dead people under the rug of so-called liberal journalism and we are siting on that rug and talking about democracy and how to remove a dictator because we dont like him etc etc. I do like the "literary" ideas (don't know if that right word) which does not work practically. I am more concerned about the livelihood of people (alive), democracy is not for dead people.

I don't deny the benefits of information age, that is huge blessings for everyone. Probably it will take some time to reap the real benefits but I am afraid the cost is getting higher, as too much information/disinformation to filter out facts from fictions. And in most of the cases states and media agencies are part of that fiction and friction created in the society, take it China or US.


This problem is greatly compounded by Democracy - trolls don't have to confuse YOU - the educated rational thinking programmer - if they can confuse the lower 50% of the electorate.


[flagged]


You've been violating this guideline, could you please stop?

> We ban accounts that use Hacker News primarily for political or ideological battle, regardless of which politics they favor.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


[flagged]


please, that’s not what this is about.

this is an issue of individual liberty, and the freedom from oppression/being forced to live under someone else’s rules.

these are desirable qualities for any self aware individual. no human, chinese or otherwise, wants to live without this concept of freedom.


I understand and I agree with you on that matter. But do you think that west is not part of that oppression by imposing sanction of various countries and resulting in degraded quality of life ? Don't you think they armed rebels that resulted in much chaos and death and inhumanity ? If someone is dead there is no talk of humanity and liberty. Liberty starts with peace. I understand that there are certain area where China and other countries can improve but other countries should not use that as pretext for their political and economical agenda. And indeed there is much more lot space and areas for west has to workout given they have made such tremendous scientific and economical development.West's actions don't reflect their achievements.

And another point is liberty given by democracy is useless if that does not translates to wishes of the populace and that is happening right now in West and US. Its there but has no effect


i think you’re missing my point - i am not the west, i don’t like the way things are unfolding in “the west”. i’m not trying to say the west is better, or right. all i am saying is this - china is wrong.


Nor I am trying to say that China is right ! But building narrative based on half-cooked idea that some country thinks works for her should also work for whole humanity is insane.(that is directed at main article not you sorry)


Conflating democracy and capitalism certainly is terrible.

Capitalism is also terrible & responsible for recent wars, since the opium wars to my tally.

Maybe earlier? The french-indian war?


Are they different now ? and to worst of our dreams they are now evolved to "imperialist" monster. They might look good in books only. I do not see any of them, see UN for example, the center for 21th century's humanity.


<deleted>


Could you please not do that here?


It very clearly sets it to display = block the line after, if you ran a normal browser.


While logfromblammo's response is kind of immature (and this probably isn't the right thread to voice that concern in), I sort of agree. It sets it to display: block in javascript, meaning the page is unusable if you're blocking scripts for performance/tracking reasons.

I tested the page with javascript disabled and manually set the html element back to display: block and it renders just fine.


Yes, but in a flippin <script> tag. Is this to weed out the readers who don't have JavaScript enabled?

Luckily Links2 supports neither JavaScript nor CSS. People in China should start using that, as to not take part in The Great Cannon.


It's... certainly one way to make sure your site only works with JS enabled.


> It very clearly sets it to display = block the line after

That's the point he is making.

> if you ran a normal browser.

What's a normal browser?


How on earth can this be flagged on "hacker" news?


CCP: Chinese citizens are ready for democracy!


1) There was no hijab in Xinjiang before and now it is very common. 2) DARPA has many research grants on ughyur language.


Xinjiang is under surveillance for a reason. They have blown up buses and killed thousands. Crime rate among Uyghurs community is also much higher.


That's called a rebellion, and it's rebellion for a very simple reason - cultural genocide by the CCP.


so I guess you are happy about terrorists killing your families for a 'holy sacrifice'?


I don't know how you can jump from stating an observation to conclude how I feel about it. I'm merely stating a natural course of human affairs.

To answer your question, I'm not happy to see any violence, but as someone who has some humility, and pragmatism, I don't see how more oppression can solve the problem of violence. For the Uyghurs, they view what they do as self defense, just like the Chinese, is self defense wrong? Some would argue only if the force used is not proportional to the offense sustained. For over a century, Chinese of various factions have invaded and massacred tens of thousands of Uyghurs in the region under different pretexts, what exactly can you expect from an ethnic group fighting for their very own survival?


I presume you have reliable sources for those claims?


I grew up in China. When I was little, there was a time that if a Uyghurs person get on the bus, everybody else on the bus would get off. Even nowadays people tend to get nervous when they see Uyghurs wandering on street.


Replace "when I was little" with "1930s Germany" and "Uyghurs" with "Jews".

A seed of distrust and paranoia was sown and was allowed to grow. That does not mean it has any basis in fact.

You should also look at how the Chinese government has oppressed the Uyghurs (and Tibetans and Taiwanese, to name a few).


I know biased stereotype is bad, and I totally agree not all Uyghurs are bad. I went to Uyghurs restaurant regularly and had Uyghurs classmates in college too.


Yep, me too. How could I be racist, one of my best friends is black? I just mean the other kinds.


That doesn't necessarily mean it's reasonable to be suspicious towards an entire ethnic group. Not many Uyghurs support violence, and not all Uyghurs are separatists.


Freedom is not free. The majority of world are like peace, but the minority can break it with terrorist attacks. To prevent the attacks, the majority will pay a huge price.

In the other way, the minority's attacks will create Nationalism in the majority, and this will make the attacks more worse.

Is there any way to resolve this?


This is a false dillema. Show me any evidence that massive surveillance increases security.

There are many things that increase peace and security: wealth, education, good institutions/political systems, arguably culture, etc. Surveillance is probably not one of them.


I agree with your opinion. But the problem is that: every option in your comment is a long term policy, it can't resolve the current problem in the reality as quick as possible.


I have personally lived long term both in the US and China (I am French)

And I would choose China to raise my kids over the US any days. Yes there are repression in China, it would be a lie to deny it, yes I have been around a girl who smoked weed, she was 28-30 years old and she literally had to hide behind a car because it's completely forbidden, highly punished and another citizen can report you.

But China has many advantages, public services are awesome. Unlike France and the US, the government is corrupt but they don't vote any law against Chinese themselves. It's a country which still have some kind of moral traditions and values so far.

And last but not least I prefer government's surveillance than people's surveillance. It's far more easier to free think in China than it is in the US and France. The latter countries are closer to the sesame credit than the latter.


As a French citizen, that's a very big risk to take. I speak from experience when I say one tiny mistake (that would be a non-issue in most Western countries) is all it takes to get kicked out of the country, after which they'll deny your Visa for years with no obligation to tell you why. It doesn't matter if you own a house in China, it doesn't matter if you've invested hundreds of thousands/millions throughout your stay there, it doesn't matter if you lived there for 10 years without a problem, it doesn't matter if you're a month away from graduating from Tsinghua/Beida, etc. If you've been to China before then you've probably already broken the law in many different ways, such as not going to the local police station whenever you stayed at a hotel/switched apartment/stayed at your friends/partners place, etc. In other words, settling down and investing a lot of money into a life in China is a disaster waiting to happen.


> not going to the local police station whenever you stayed at a hotel/switched apartment/stayed at your friends/partners place

I've never heard of this and I grew up in China. Can you provide a source?


I think it applies only to foreigners. http://lawandborder.com/temporary-residence-registration-for...

Normally the hotel does it for you.

After getting an apartment here I didn't register for about a month. I had to spend some time at the registry office to get a warning. They said if it happens again there'll be a fine, and if it happens a third time you presumably have to leave the country.

On your arrival/departure form it also says:

"Aliens who do not lodge at hotels, guesthouses or inns shall, within 24 hours (72 hours in rural areas) of entry, go through accomodation registration at local police station.


Right. No offense but where do you live in China? Beijing or Shanghai is not exactly the same as Xinjiang. Also foreigners (still) enjoy a de facto “upper class” status in China so it’s likely you may be unaware (or choose to be) to much of what happens (e.g. situation of migrants in big cities).


> Unlike France and the US, the government is corrupt but they don't vote any law against Chinese themselves

It's not very logical.

By definition, the word "Law" means: a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior[0]. Who's behavior? Trees? Mountains? No, people's behavior, people who living inside the territory of the country.

So, the right way to put should be: China's laws are more restrict towards foreigners, which is reasonable, because:

1) Foreigners contributes less to the society than locals in general.

2) Foreigners have no proxy or benefiter in the government system, so nobody will speak for them.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law


I think the user you're responding to has it exactly backwards. Laws are more strictly applied to local Chinese than to tourists and expats. The general idea seems to be "these laowai are full of vices and they will do what they do, but we must instill and uphold a strict moral code for our own people to maintain a healthy society"

(I'm of course speaking of petty law breaking such as smoking weed or jaywalking. If you steal or defraud someone you'll see your visa disappear faster than sin)


> China's Xinjiang surveillance is the dystopian future nobody wants

What silly clickbait. I swear the media ( or propaganda ) sure loves to scaremonger with "china".

The brits want it. Europe wants it. Russia wants it. And the liberal and conservatives in the US want it.

The leading surveillance systems in the world aren't in china. It's in britain. It's in the US.

Edit: Holy cow, the brigade is strong here.


This post is clearly suggesting that the PEOPLE of those nations don't want that dystopian future.

What China is doing in Xinjiang is not something many, if any, citizens around the world want.


> This post is clearly suggesting that the PEOPLE of those nations don't want that dystopian future.

What people want a dystopian future? That's a pointless statement. Also, Nithin Cota is not chinese nor ughyur. How can he speak for those people.

> What China is doing in Xinjiang is not something many, if any, citizens around the world want.

You can say that about the same things that happened in the US, britain, europe and around the world.


We're not talking about US, Britain, Europe or any other country.

It's also not a prerequisite to be Chinese or Uyghur to discuss this topic. If someone learns and becomes educated on a topic they can discuss it.

He's also not saying that Uyghurs want this. He's saying nobody wants this.


Saying "nobody" is at least partially wishful thinking. Hell, lots of people on HN want it. Just look at recent discussions of encryption backdoors for FBI.


> We're not talking about US, Britain, Europe or any other country.

But you said "people of those nations"? Now you are backtracking?

> It's also not a prerequisite to be Chinese or Uyghur to discuss this topic. If someone learns and becomes educated on a topic they can discuss it.

I didn't say it was a prerequisite. My point is that the assertion that "we don't want dystopian surveillance" is absurd considering the amount of surveillance we already have. Okay? Considering the guy wrote for a western news outlet, I'm assuming by "we", he meant the western world.

> He's also not saying that Uyghurs want this. He's saying nobody wants this.

Right. And my point is that we already have it.


> What people want a dystopian future?

The people creating these surveillance networks, presumably. So, I guess, politicians in China, the US, Britain, Europe, and Russia (among others).


>The leading surveillance systems in the world aren't in china. It's in britain. It's in the US

How do you even measure that? I have no idea what you're are saying means?


With the UK, this is already well known. They have about a camera per 14 people give or take. Post 9-11, in the US it's also spread. Typically it's in really crime-ridden areas where law and order is barely sustainable (yes these exist). The only one I can't comment much on is Russia. Given that they essentially have a dictatorship, I wouldn't be surprised if they had a big program as well.

imo the state of the art surveillance isn't in China. It's either in the Middle East (especially in Dubai) or Singapore.

This happened a few years back: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/an-eye-for-an-eye-...

(I used to work in the video imaging industry.)

The OP of this thread is missing the point of the article though. They can call themselves Liberals, Conservatives, Communist Party Members, Nationalists or whatever, but only the elites want mass surveillance and really no one else


Russia pretty much wrote the hypothetical NSA worst-case into law: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yarovaya_law

> Most of the act's amendments came into effect on 20 July 2016. Amendments that require telecom operators to store recordings of phone conversations, text messages and users' internet traffic up to 6 months were announced to come into place on 1 July 2018; however, senator Anton Belyakov has submitted a proposal to move the regulations' start date to 2023, because of the extreme amount of data storage technology needed to make fulfilling the requirements possible.


Aren't most of the cameras in the UK private as well? Obviously that doesn't mean much but it is different to places like china in that way.


On the plus side, there is no law against face coverings in the UK. You can legally walk along the street wearing a guy falkes mask, motorcycle helmet or niqab. Nor is there any requirement to carry ID.


Thank god for that. I can wear my spiderman costume. How lovely to live in such a free country!! /s


> How do you even measure that?

How about on a per capita basis?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/06/tony-porter-su...

Or how about

1. In terms of quality and sophistication tech. US and Britain pioneered most of the surveillance tech.

2. Experience and age? We have decades head start on the chinese when it comes to tech surveillance.

3. We are more "connected" and a more urban society with surveillable data? Nearly 50% of china still lives in rural areas.


So "leading surveillance systems in the world" means:

1. Who "started it" 2. How long they've been doing it 3. Percentage of people affected by it (not number!)

In other words, you worked backwards to produce vague descriptions of metrics by which your point would be true. If it weren't for the fact that these vague metrics in no way support your assertion.


>1. Who "started it"

Not just who started. The quality and sophistication.

> 2. How long they've been doing it 3. Percentage of people affected by it (not number!)

Yes. What else would it be? What other metric would you use?


"Leading" implies, to me, sophistication, how widespread it is, and how many people it impacts.


I don’t have a dog in this fight other than to note “nearly 50% of China” is a massive number.


I have chatted with people providing tech support for this. The level of monitoring is beyond your wildest imagination.

The anecdotal number says Xinjiang spent 30B RMB on the security and surveillance. I have no details about the exact expense items.


I think that is because they have large populace to deal with


Did you read the article? Not sure about you but I don't have to put my government issued ID on my kitchen knives.


Well if you start to kill people on street and doing nasty things that is not impossible to tag the knives :). If you look in to history of this particular area there have been fierce street fighting and there was a tradition or culture to hang your sword/dagger or knife around your waist (before these new laws established). I think that is for public security and peace its not oppression and the law is tailored to address their local needs.


Then why are only Uyghurs required to get the ID branded on their cutlery?


> Did you read the article?

Yes.

> Not sure about you but I don't have to put my government issued ID on my kitchen knives.

Neither do I. But that's because I love freedom.

What's the difference between ids on or for knives and ids on or for guns? It sounds ridiculous to us because our murders are by guns. But in china people kill each other with knives.

https://www.cnn.com/2014/03/01/world/asia/china-railway-atta...

Do you know what some people in the US want? Fingerprinted "smart" guns. More government surveillance/registry/etc of gun owners. What's the difference?

If people in china are killing each other with knives, doesn't "smart" knives or knife registry make sense just like a gun registry?


If we had as few deaths from knives as China has head from knife attacks as we in the US have die from firearms in a single month, maybe even weeks, it'd be historically significant.

Add to that the social utility aspect that someone else mentioned. Firearms are explicitly designed to make it easy to hit a target with lead from far away, which just so happens to coincide with killing people in perhaps the most efficient way possible(barring weapons of mass destruction).


>It sounds ridiculous to us

Not sure if calling your own example ridiculous is a good argumentative tactic in short-form debates like this...

>because our murders are by guns

Sure, but a cleavers' main manufactured purpose isn't killing other human beings. The guns involved in mass shootings are made specifically for shooting people en mass.

>If people in china are killing each other with knives, doesn't "smart" knives or knife registry make sense just like a gun registry?

No. Even though the barrier for entry for making guns is getting lower and lower, they'll never ever approach the barrier for entry for making an edged weapon.


> Neither do I. But that's because I love freedom.

I guess all the folks in Xinjiang just don’t love freedom as much as you do.


> I guess all the folks in Xinjiang just don’t love freedom as much as you do.

Of course they do. Good god you completely missed my point.


Flamewars aren't welcome here. We ban accounts that post like this, so we'd appreciate it if you'd read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and abide by the rules from now on.


> The brits want it. Europe wants it. Russia wants it. And the liberal and conservatives in the US want it.

Citation needed. All of those "countries" don't "want it". Perhaps some of the authoritarian leaders in some of those countries want it.



Bullshit. Britain and the US don't do anywhere near the scale of this collection. Also we have cases like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpenter_v._United_States which are set to (likely) outlaw ability for warrantless surveillance of position, which they do in China.


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