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Surveillance State: How China Uses Technology to Curtail Freedom

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Xi Jinping’s socialist-capitalist model is little more than an autocracy relying on technology to curtail civil liberty and economic freedom.

Therese Shaheen writes: In early January, the Treasury-led Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) rejected the proposed purchase of U.S.-based MoneyGram by Ant Financial, a subsidiary of China’s Alibaba. The decision is an important indication of Washington’s growing recognition that technology, personal data including financial information, and the Chinese government are a tightly woven fabric that it is best not to import to the United States.

“To further solidify his control over the Chinese state, Xi has made extensive use of modern technology to influence and control China’s citizens.”

The CFIUS decision sheds much needed light at an important time. China’s President Xi Jinping is embarking on his second five-year term as president, and his priorities continue along the same four broad tracks that helped him take control of the party, the country, and Chinese society in his first term. First, he continues to solidify the control of the Communist party over the Chinese state and economy. Second, he continues stoking Chinese nationalism, to lend political legitimacy to his regime. Third, expect ever more relentless but futile attempts to overcome China’s systemic socioeconomic challenges; and, finally, Xi is building up China’s military capabilities for more of the regional military adventurism that has led to territorial disputes with many of China’s neighbors.

[Read the full story here, at National Review]

Xi and the party will continue to use all the levers they can to execute these priorities, and the four tracks are not independent of one other. China’s bellicose regional military posture during Xi’s tenure reflects his need to appeal to Chinese nationalism. More audacious moves in all four dimensions are likely, to keep this complex balancing act moving ahead against diminishing marginal returns.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan arrive at the airport in Hong Kong

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan. Reuters

It must be acknowledged that Xi has been successful by many measures. He is a serious leader. In his first term, he consolidated the apparatus of both party and government. Certainly, he is the most powerful leader in the People’s Republic of China since Mao. Indeed, on the current trajectory, his influence and tenure may be on par with those of the emperors of China’s historic past. The question remains, though, how much deeper and tighter he can take control. All the political trends in China are in the direction of centralization, not liberalization.

To further solidify his control over the Chinese state, Xi has made extensive use of modern technology to influence and control China’s citizens. Technology is a thread that runs through the fabric of the party’s program: It is employed to keep order and … (read more)

Source: National Review

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