People do not forget abuse on such a level, and collective trauma does not go away overnight. I am sure there will be more sadness in the future, when people will discuss effects of the repressive policies on the Uigurs.
You've been doing this too much. Please stop.
Even more terrifying is the thought that if my above fear that this now might be a one-way road is true, is eventually every country going to become a oppressive dictatorship? On top of that we've seen the last year or so that we now have propaganda warfare on social media. Having free speech and little internal propaganda is clearly a weakness...
I think that to some, surveillance often looks like a way to get the efficiency of distributed decision making while keeping central control (which has definitely been the philosophy behind China's economic experiments of the past 30y). But historically, it has arced towards enforcing centralized organization for reasons that have nothing to do with the efficiency of the tech involved - and that pattern has proven both bad for a population and self-defeating for regimes.
This is something that could only be targeted decades ago. Now its cost-admissible to run at scale - and to do so adaptively to improve the methods.
Come to think of it, I can't remember the last time HN had a good discussion about US censorship and surveillance.
Your comments are so unproductive (i.e. emotional/irrelevant/us-vs-them) that they actually undermine the cause you say you're concerned about. You give the rest of us a bad name.
Defending him was your job, not mine.
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19187633 was particularly unacceptable.
Chinese can have thousands of datapoints per day (with their mandatory phone apps, cameras, checkpoints). They can automatically analyze them in real time. They can get summaries and automatically classify people.
Do you mean 10% of the subpopulation pertinent to the region?
- We're being inconsistent with our criticism, unwilling to apply it as a universal standard
- We're talking about others (Chinese) needing to rebel, blaming this on brainwashing, without adknowledging our own inability and unwillingness to act, without being willing to label this brainwashing
- We're building over the course of increasingly ignorant veiled-criticism posts of foreign cultures a dog-whistle for Chinese racism within our tech culture
- We're narrowly conceptualizing the issues fundamental to these technologies, spending our energy on exasperation that contributes to nationalistic sentiment, rather than addressing the global systemic abuse
- Our "blindspot" of admitting our own state the abuse of information fundamentally carves out, via the course of international law and sovereignty, the justification for other countries to do the exact same
In essence: fixing this kind of thing starts at home in the United States. Sunday morning HN comment anguish over the Uighurs of China is navel gazing.
A cursory search on HN will give you countless counter-examples. Can you give me an example of the inconsistency?
Are you suggesting there should be no posts criticizing China? or every such a post should have a banner claiming "Be gentle. Don't criticize too much. Look into the mirror"? how about HN visitors not from the US?
> We're talking about others (Chinese) needing to rebel, blaming this on brainwashing, without adknowledging our own inability and unwillingness to act, without being willing to label this brainwashing
You know what is brainwashing? "China’s most popular app is a propaganda tool teaching Xi Jinping Thought" 
> Our "blindspot" of admitting our own state the abuse of information fundamentally carves out, via the course of international law and sovereignty, the justification for other countries to do the exact same
First off, the US is not the leader of surveillance. Other countries don't need US's approval to implement their own surveillance. What a smack of arrogance. Are you sure you don't believe in American supremacy?
Secondly, I'm not aware of any "international law" that justifies surveillance because "the US does it".
> In essence: fixing this kind of thing starts at home in the United States. Sunday morning HN comment anguish over the Uighurs of China is navel gazing.
This reminds me of the the argument against space exploration: "Fix issues on Earth first before thinking of Mars". You know how absurd it is.
How do you even know? These complaints are never in direct response to a person who clearly espoused a hypocritical position, it's just general talking into the room, or in response to an assumption.
> rather than addressing the global systemic abuse
How is "but the NSA" achieving that? Or simply assuming someone else has this
> "blindspot" of admitting our own state
... what is "our", here? Americans? Humans? Carbon-based lifeforms? "The West"? If you have to make everything this diffuse and global and systemic to even tackle it, what's your proposed first step? What is a comment you like?
> Sunday morning HN comment anguish over the Uighurs of China is navel gazing.
I don't know what sunday morning HN comment anguish is supposed to be, but I know that not looking away, even when you could have easily looked away and people would prefer you to, is always good, even just for the person doing it.
1) The complaints are often either hypocritical or naive, mirroring whatever target the official US policy (and thus media) have at that year. People oblivious to 99% of the goings-on around the world merely parrot opinions they read in the media about 1-2 select places, in tandem with official national "interests" against those places. At the same time when you see tons of blog posts, and media stories and so on (and movies and TV series) against country/situation X, you don't see any about country Y which is similarly or much worse, but an ally (or indifferent). E.g. complaining about the treatment of gay/women in place X but always forgetting Saudi Arabia unless it happens to coincide with some beef their country has with it.
2) Opinions used to sell state action and interventions, with blatant disregard for nuance and for the people in the area they're supposed to help. E.g. whenever there was an intervention to "bring democracy" etc, it created worse power vacuums and civil war hellholes in the places it touched (e.g. Iraq, Libya, Syria, jut in the last 15 years) -- but of course it also sold trillions of war merchandise.
If you had been about to respond to that commenter "You are oblivious to 99% of the going on's around the world  and merely parrot opinions you read in the media", that probably would have given you pause. Being more indirect isn't being more polite, in my books.
 that could be parsed as either "to 99% of the stuff of which I am aware of, so I am aware of 100 times more things than you", or as "to 99% of all the stuff that actually goes on the world, which would mean you are aware of 1% of everything going on right now, which would make you something between Q and God", both of which are silly.
> At the same time when you see tons of blog posts, and media stories and so on (and movies and TV series) against country/situation X, you don't see any about country Y which is similarly or much worse, but an ally (or indifferent).
Another way to look at it is that 99.999% (exactly) of the stories here are basically fluff that can disappear quicker than you say "whoops" if the serious stuff isn't dealt with. How come that the precious few cases when something serious, whether it's in the US or elsewhere, gets some attention, are played off against each other? What does this achieve? What does this create room for? It's not a zero-sum game, where making assumptions about a commenter who made a very short comment stating a simple fact, without a hint of any of the stuff you conjure up, somehow improves discussion taking place elsewhere or in the future.
Both of which are accurate (which is almost as good as polite). The average American can't pinpoint Belgium on the map, much less understand global inter-state politics.
The people who do (and who don't just have an opinion based on reading NYT or Economist or worse Time) are much less. We're not even talking about having a nuanced opinion here, with all the subtleties of the history of the countries involved, etc.
Being from a country that has actual involvement with 20th/21st century history (with other nations etc), not as something abstract that happens away, but in real time, also helps. As opposed to an isolated huge country where the main concerns are the local (state) affairs, and where the average person seldom if ever reads foreign literature, seldom if ever listens to foreign music, and almost never watches foreign movies. Heck, the average person don't even watch the other countries' athletes in Olympics, the media only give them an one-sided US athletes coverage.
Heck, the average German or Frenchman can tell a lot more about global affairs than the average American, and I've had such discussions in all of those countries and more.
Heck, most Americans can't tell who their own Vice President is.
> The people who do (and who don't just have an opinion based on reading NYT or Economist or worse Time) are much less.
But at what percentage of Americans on a website do you just get to assume a commenter's nationality, and at what percentage of obliviousness to what is going on in the world and under their noses can you just declare an American ignorant by association, simply ignore any and all they said, and scold them for their supposed ignorance and one-sidedness? Again, what does this achieve?
> We're not even talking about having a nuanced opinion here, with all the subtleties of the history of the countries involved, etc.
I hope this isn't aiming at some kind of understanding how Chinese totalitarianism isn't really totalitarianism, or that for a Chinese child it's just different when their parents get tortured because they happened to own land at the wrong time, etc. I mean, what nuance could one be missing about harvesting organs from political prisoners? "Yes, it's horrible, but", is that the new "I'm not racist, but"?
And hey, when a Chinese employee in China makes a honest mistake the US government doesn't like, do they get them fired, as that Mariott employee got fired? When a Chinese company quotes someone Angela Merkel doesn't like on Chinese social media, does that company end up apologizing profusely, three times, like Mercedes Benz did for quoting the Dalai Lama (without attribution even, just the quote) on Instagram? At what point are we allowed to also talk about Chinese totalitarianism?
As a German, for me it's precisely not to "point fingers", I simply don't want this shit to be repeated elsewhere, either. And I cannot sit idly by when it's belittled or rationalized in any way. Not even when someone else might say the same thing with a different motivation or a different view of the world. I also don't think the world being fucked up elsewhere is something that relieves one of responsibility. Just like when you're on a sinking ship, that other ships are also sinking doesn't make it better, but even worse. It's simply orthogonal: criticizing China doesn't take away energy that would have been used for criticizing the US, it's simply that all these whataboutism comments ruined a discussion that, on a website where such stuff doesn't get flagged every single time anyway (while people complain about the crazy anti-China bent everyone is on, just seething with hatred against China, nothing to do with compassion, intelligence, and wishing China well), could have been interesting.
In the US, you have all necessary freedoms on paper, and probably more than enough even in practice, if people only used them, to change things. In China, that doesn't even remotely apply, and we're now decades into dissidents being murdered. The people who managed to survive in that system so far and are formed by it are not the people I ask "permission" of. They can forfeit their own human rights if they want, not those of their fellow citizens. Not 50 years ago, not today, not ever. Just like the Holocaust wouldn't have been suddenly okay if only the Nazis had won; and that the extent of it could even be somewhat discovered was because they lost the war, not because they didn't want to erase that completely from the history books, just like they completely erased villages.
I've also had many discussions about these subjects, but all of them combined were not half as insightful as the books by Sebastian Haffner and Hannah Arendt I read. They're a good way to find out just how dumb we have become, and how quickly. And when issues get split into country X versus country Y, rather than talking about individuals and groups of individuals within them and their actual actions and variety of motivations, that's already part of the circus for me. Abstractions that take on a life on their own in that way aren't helpful at all.
> [..] even the desert of neighbourlessness and mutual suspicion disappears, so that it is as if everybody melted together into giant being of enormous proportions. This too does the for a totalitarian environment so well prepared vernacular express in its own way when it no longer speaks of "the" Russians or "the" French, but tells us what "the" Russian or "the" Frenchman wants.
-- Hannah Arendt
- At every village level they have "informants" for the communist party who inform their higher ups regularly about village level activity. They are financially supported with healthcare and education subsidies and so it makes sense for everyone to join in and inform, especially the poor.
- At the city level they have more ways to collect information
about people like companies feeding data bases, people interacting with the internet and retail.
He explained that the idea is even if 10% of the population is brain washed they can keep tabs on the 90% and when shit hits the fan they want to be in the know. After Tiananmen they have followed a formula: Keep enough people happy and conforming with economic prosperity and get ahead of the curb for restive remainder.
There are almost 200,000 of these incidents every year. Several of them grow into large demonstrations with barricades, sit-ins, and rioting. They are usually reactions against come companies, local government, land seizures, or some corrupt individuals.
As long as people don't demand changing of the system, government often gives in at least a little. People can be changed, more investigations, some government actions can be cancelled.
It's clever way to bend without breaking. Allow people to show their frustration against things that are wrong but control tightly what kind of targets are allowed.
Now, in the United States, if you want to disrupt some other kind of corruption (say, farming industry practices around the treatment of animals) - this will get you on terrorist watchlists, and the FBI will infiltrate and seek the arrests of that behavior as well, enforcing the strict relationship that wealthy families have in the enforcement of American societal structure.
If it weren't for Snowden many of us who had been ranting about the NSA would still be getting dismissed with off-hand remarks of "conspiracy theorist" with a condescending undertone. Yet even as those of us warning about these issues move on to tell people about the next thing, we get the same thing. Even worse, after being proved right by Wikileaks or Snowden etc, those same people are still making excuses for their failure to heed those warnings. For example, I can't tell you how frustrating it is to start talking about NSA and to get "yeah we'll, we knew about echelon, it wasn't a surprise" type comments. Yes, those of us paying attention knew, but the problem is that we all got dismissed by smugly idiotic people with phrases like "crackpot conspiracy theorist"...
They just don't happen in the same scale and they don't have as bad consequences for people.
> "Those things do happen" is not proper counterargument.
To "that's a conspiracy theory" it actually is, and though I still agree that it's a red herring to talk about the US when China is brought up (and China or Russia or human nature when the US is brought up), it's not a "conspiracy theory" at all.
> It is therefore not surprising that the increasing privatisation of intelligence has coincided with the proliferation of domestic surveillance operations against political activists, particularly those linked to environmental and social justice protest groups.
> Department of Homeland Security documents released in April prove a "systematic effort" by the agency "to surveil and disrupt peaceful demonstrations" linked to Occupy Wall Street, according to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF).
> Similarly, FBI documents confirmed "a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector" designed to produce intelligence on behalf of "the corporate security community." A PCJF spokesperson remarked that the documents show "federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America."
"False equivalence": Nope, not saying they are equivalent.
"Conspiracy theory": Nope, read the reporting on the Snowden documents, fusion centers, legal cases involving use of surveillance, statements by the American Civil Liberties Union.
"It's all the same": I think what America is doing is both worse and of a different kind.
Have you tried? Did you know that the United States communist party has been in existence for a century? 
> (says, farming industry practices around the treatment of animals) - this will get you on terrorist watchlists
I'm not aware PETA is on terrorist watchlist.
Sure the engineers can make the system lie. And they probably will to some extent. But it's a much smaller number of people you need to keep pleased and policed.
You might enjoy reading The Dictator’s Handbook.
It's same there, a few of them are financially rewarded for pushing privacy evanding tactics and others silently follow otherwise risk being reported.
Facebook completely kneecapped the ability of the Rohingya to organize and tell their story by pulling stuff like this at the request of the Burmese government. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/20/facebook-...
EDIT: This whole idea that Facebook's only sin was not moderating enough, and that they didn't give direct support to the government to help the genocide is just their PR and legal departments going into overdrive because they know they screwed up hard.
Breach of privacy is bad in itself. Thats not the parent's "formulated opinion", it's something well discussed, with extended arguments, that many people agree on.
So it doesn't matter "what they're going to do with it".
The same way your spouse going over and tracking your internet searches and mails is bad, no matter if they don't do anything with it.
(This of course holds for the whole world states that do that shit, not just China).
Is killing evil? In some contexts, yes, in others no.
The issue is a lack of context in affairs on the other side of the world, in a culture and the lives one has no knowledge about. To levy moral supremacy over others without an attempt at context is what starts wars and disagreements.
Take this thought experiment on the importance of understanding context:
If i walk into a room and levy my supreme morality by shooting you in the face because i Just saw you shoot a man would be a crime, because perhaps I did not witness the context from 5 minutes earlier of that man shooting another man (which is why you shot him in the face, and ultimately why I shot you). Who's right? Who's wrong?
2. Why do about 20% of comments about China's inhumane activities need to drag in an unrelated region. It almost comes across as a deliberate attempt to muddy the issue with an irrational/irrelevant regional/nationalistic divide.
My guess is that they think that by flooding the place with Han Chinese and making their (Muslims) lives miserable, they will break them.
When displaying your non-Han-ness becomes something that will lead to you being imprisoned or denied jobs/housing/food, gradually all that will remain is Han.
At the end of the day, the CCP is rather obviously optimizing for maintaining its rule. An economic slowdown caused by multilateral UN sanctions would pose a far greater threat to the CCP rule than the Uighurs ever have.
The problem is that the world generally doesn't pay that much attention to global human rights issues and citizens of developed countries currently care more about the money they're making from China than its human rights (and other) violations anyway.
Agree with your second paragraph though.
With the amount of money China has and the size of their "enemy" limitless is the right word. Let's not forget that China has built 50 MILLION apartments just to do something.
All they have to do is blacklist them: behave like a Muslim and your doors are essentially closed...no jobs, credit etc etc.
"Why have I made 5~6 comments in the thread?" It's an interesting topic that I've spent over 5 years researching.
"Why are you talking about the United States in a China thread?" I think this comment captures it well: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19185364
By my count, you've made 13 comments in this thread so far, which is about 20% of the current total.
I don't think you've spent "over 5 years" researching surveillance China. It seems like you may have spent that much time researching surveillance in the US (but I have my doubts), and are very intent on derailing the thread into a discussion of that instead of the article content about China.
Immorality in one region isn't excused by immorality in another. If what you mean to say is "This is absolutely inexcusable in China, and inexcusable in the West too" that's fine, but completely irrelevant to the article at hand, but I don't think that's what you're saying.
One can't fully comprehend an issue without comparing/contrasting it with other scenarios that may be somewhat comparable.
but how is this facial data collection any different than Facebook's?
Does Facebook have cameras everywhere that feed facial recognition and location data into a database that correlates it with government-id information?
No, Facebook does not. That is how it is different.
facebook have everyone around you uploading photos. google and amazon have microphones in your house and houses you visit. considering the social settings on both countries it is the same coverage.
> facebook have everyone around you uploading photos. google and amazon have microphones in your house and houses you visit. considering the social settings on both countries it is the same coverage.
The main differences here aren't technical (such as camera coverage per person), but political. China is installing facial recognition cameras to non-consensually monitor an unwilling minority population in order to subjugate and eventually forcibly assimilate it. Facebook does facial recognition on images voluntarily given to it to further some creepy ad-pushing. Those are very different things.
also, can you say that facebook, advertising and thinktanks are not political in the US?
So, in the end, if West is to be afraid of Chinese invasion, they should be afraid of Chinese armed police, not the regular army.
The point of course in having both conventional and nuclear weapons is so that your range of responses is wider than between nothing and a mushroom cloud.
I.e. I prefer to give up my freedom to kill others at will if everyone around me would do the same.