Australia is preparing to debut its version of the Chinese regime’s high-tech system for monitoring and controlling its citizens. The launch, to take place in the northern city of Darwin, will include systems to monitor people’s activity via their cell phones.
The new system is based on monitoring programs in Shenzhen, China, where the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is testing its Social Credit System. Officials on the Darwin council traveled to Shenzhen, according to NT News, to “have a chance to see exactly how their Smart Technology works prior to being fully rolled out.”
In Darwin, they’ve already constructed “poles, fitted with speakers, cameras and Wi-Fi,” according to NT News, to monitor people, their movements around the city, the websites they visit, and what apps they use. The monitoring will be done mainly by artificial intelligence, but will alert authorities based on set triggers.
Just as in China, the surveillance system is being branded as a “smart city” program, and while Australian officials claim its operations are benign, they’ve announced it functions to monitor cell phone activity and “virtual fences” that will trigger alerts if people cross them.
“We’ll be getting sent an alarm saying, ‘There’s a person in this area that you’ve put a virtual fence around.’ … Boom, an alert goes out to whatever authority, whether it’s us or police to say ‘look at camera five,’” said Josh Sattler, the Darwin council’s general manager for innovation, growth, and development services, according to NT News.
The nature of the “virtual fences” and what type of activity will sound an alarm still isn’t being made clear.
The system is being promoted as mostly benign. Sattler said it will tell the government “where people are using Wi-Fi, what they’re using Wi-Fi for, are they watching YouTube, etc. All these bits of information we can share with businesses. … We can let businesses know, ‘Hey, 80 percent of people actually use Instagram within this area of the city, between these hours.’”
The CCP’s smart city Social Credit System is able to monitor each person in the society, tracking every element of their lives—including their friends, online purchases, daily behavior, and other information—and assigns each person a citizen score that determines their level of freedom in society.
The tool is a core piece of the CCP’s programs to monitor and persecute dissidents, including religious believers and people who oppose the ruling communist system.
Chinese human rights lawyer Teng Biao, a visiting scholar at New York University, described the Social Credit System as a new form of tyranny, meant to reactivate the CCP’s totalitarian hold on society.
“In the past, there was the Nazi totalitarianism and Mao Zedong’s totalitarian system, but a totalitarian system powered by the internet and contemporary technology has not existed before,” Teng said in a recent interview with The Epoch Times.
“The CCP is now taking the first step to build such a high-tech totalitarian system, by using credit ratings and monitoring and recording every detail in people’s daily life, which is very frightening.”
The regime also isn’t interested in keeping the technology within its own borders. It’s exporting the system, and its “China model” of totalitarian government, as a service of its “One Belt, One Road” program. When the CCP builds its infrastructure abroad, its surveillance and social control programs are part of the package.
In Darwin, there has been a push to jump aboard the CCP’s program. The local officials made a “friendship” deal with Yuexiu District, in Guangzhou, China, in 2018. According to John Garrick, a senior lecturer at Charles Darwin University, the deal was branded by Chinese media as “part of President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative.”
That followed a previous deal between Darwin and the CCP, in which the city signed a 99-year lease of the Port of Darwin to a Chinese company and the CCP. The Chinese owner, Ye Cheng, had referred to the deal as being part of One Belt, One Road.
The deals also should raise concern for U.S. Marines stationed in Darwin, under the Obama-era pivot to the Pacific, about whether the CCP is able to monitor data collected on cell phones from its systems in the area. Under a 2011 deal between the United States and Australia, the U.S. troops will be there until 2040.
And of similar concern, the decision of Australia to begin implementing the CCP’s programs for totalitarian social control represents a major development in the CCP’s China model push.
As The Epoch Times has reported, the CCP views Australia as a testing ground for programs it wants to spread to the West. After Australia comes Canada, then the United States—in an apparent imitation of Mao Zedong’s strategy to “surround the cities with the countryside.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.