CHINA is morphing into the “most sophisticated Orwellian police state” in the world, a former US defence official has warned.
Michael Beckley, who advises the Pentagon and US intelligence community on China, said the dictator Xi Jinping is set to “tighten control over every aspect of society”.
And he predicted the Communist Party’s surveillance will grow more invasive to maintain its iron fist rule.
Highly advanced and “invasive” digital technologies have become a central part of the Chinese state – with people both online and offline kept under constant observation as the government tightens its controlling grip.
Experts estimate more than half of the world’s nearly one billion CCTV cameras are in China, and cops are now collecting “voice prints” using recorders on facial recognition cameras.
Chinese police are buying equipment to build DNA databases, and tracking the phones of millions of Chinese citizens using WiFi “sniffers”.
It means the state is well prepared to crackdown on dissent.
Michael, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, said the Chinese state is set to “tighten control over every aspect of society”.
Speaking on the Intelligence Squared US podcast, he said: “I don’t think the CCP will lose control and the regime will collapse because they’ve built up the most sophisticated Orwellian police state.
“We’ve seen China has been willing to roll tanks into the streets… I don’t foresee a popular revolution toppling the regime.”
His comments come after historic protests in China over Xi’s draconian zero-Covid policy – which led to the country dramatically abandoning its harsh lockdown.
Some experts said it was an unprecedented climbdown by the Chinese government, suggesting a softer approach.
But Michael said it was “notable” that the Chinese authorities are now “hunting down” the protesters who took part in the uprising.
China has poured huge amounts of money into its internal security budget over the last few decades to transform itself into one of the world’s most ruthless police states.
But, along with its sky-high levels of military spending, Michael said investment has to slow as it’s becoming “unsustainable”.
With a rapidly declining population and soaring debt, he said China’s growth model is “fundamentally broken”.
The defence expert said “things have stopped getting better for China and have started getting worse”.
And he warned of the economic and diplomatic “backlash” coming for China in the 2030s.
“The rise of China that we have gotten so used to is coming to an end,” he said.
“Abroad… China faces a growing gang of hostile rivals.
“There’s a palpable malaise in China, which we saw in the biggest protests since 1989.”
He said the future of the nation of 1.4billion looks bleak as the rich are “fleeing in droves” and the poor are “refusing to pay mortgages”.
“The fundamental problem is that China’s growth model… is fundamentally broken,” Michael said.
“It’s based on transferring money from Chinese people to the government for them to invest.
“It worked well initially… but as you enter middle-income status, a lot of the low hanging fruit has been picked.”
He said the country has “ploughed through its water and farmland and energy resources”.
“Across the board, China is facing these growing headwinds,” Michael explained.
“They are building ghost cities of empty apartments and roads to nowhere,” he added.
“China faces more and more rivals around the world. Anti-China sentiment has soared to levels not seen since Tiananmen.
“Taiwan is more defiant than ever, Japan is doubling its defence spending, India is massing forces on its border.
“And the anti-China alliances are popping up all over the place.”
Dahlia Peterson, research analyst at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, said many in China remain unaware of the true level of state surveillance.
She previously told The Sun Online: “China is developing an Orwellian-style state.
“Domestically, the most frightening part is that many people inside China remain unaware of the true scope of surveillance, and still welcome it as a source of ‘security’.
“In programs such as Sharp Eyes, local governments nationwide have even successfully convinced citizens to take part in surveilling each other.”
Vidushi Marda, from human rights and privacy charity organisation ARTICLE 19, also said it’s feared the highly invasive technology could spread around the world.
She told The Sun Online: “We think it is crucial to focus on China — not because it is a wildly different style of surveillance — but because Chinese tech companies have fuelled an international boom in governments’ acquisition of surveillance technology.”
The full debate between Michael Beckley and Ian Bremmer will be released on the Intelligence Squared US podcast on February 17.
4Surveillance cameras in front of Mao Zedong on Tiananmen Gate in BeijingCredit: Reuters4A facial recognition system demonstrated at a show in ShanghaiCredit: Getty4A Chinese citizen scans his face to go through the barrier at a train stationCredit: Getty4Pedestrians walk below CCTV cameras in Wangfujing Street in BeijingCredit: Alamy
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk