Leaked Documents Show How Chinese Regime Monitors Dissidents with Facial Recognition Tech

September 28, 2020 Updated: September 28, 2020

In mainland China, facial recognition-enhanced surveillance cameras and other equipment are ubiquitous in cities and towns. The technology is installed inside stores, cafeterias, and banks for making payments or to access office buildings and airports.

Internal Chinese government documents has revealed more details about authorities’ plans to monitor citizens on a large scale—including dissidents.

The Epoch Times obtained documents issued by the “work leadership group for public security video monitoring construction and networking” in Liuhe district, Nanjing city, Jiangsu Province.

In 2017, the government of Nanjing city implemented facial recognition technology to initiate three “defenses,” meaning high-resolution surveillance cameras would be installed near province- and city-level highways; district-level roads; and core governmental zones, transportation hubs, hospitals, squares, and communities.

Pedestrians should be videotaped every 10, 20, and 30 minutes, according to the document.

Epoch Times Photo
Implementation Plan of Upgrading Security Video Technology and Protection Management, Liuhe District, Nanjing City, 2017. Provided by The Epoch Times

In its implementation plan, the claim of “public security technology and protection management” is actually meant to slate out a nation-wide monitoring system for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

In July 2020, the police in Wuhai city, Inner Mongolia, released a summary report of “achievements” they made in the local Sharp Eyes project—a surveillance program targeted at rural areas covering counties, towns, and villages.

The initiative was first conceived in 2008 in a Chinese Communist Party document on plans to “revive the countryside.”

As with the 20 million “Skynet” cameras that are already in place throughout China’s urban areas, the “Sharp Eyes Project” is pegged as a public safety measure to help fight crime more effectively.

According to the report, the project successfully recognized 1,158 photos of various local “key targets.” The system identified more than 60 targets for its local “Domestic Security” and more than 10 people accused of crimes. China’s Domestic Security Bureau offices make up a secret police force tasked with neutralizing individuals that the Communist Party deems to be political threats.

Epoch Times Photo
Wuhai police summary peport about the local “Sharp Eyes Project,” July, 2020. (Provided by The Epoch Times)

Such “key targets” are typically dissidents, such as petitioners who seek to address their complaints to authorities, religious minorities, and rights activists.

In a Jan. 14, 2019 report by Bitter Winter, a magazine on religious liberty and human rights in China, locals in Xi’an city, Shaanxi Province said: “The CCP is already monitoring us in our homes, what privacy do we have left? It’s like we’ve all got ropes around our necks and are being led on leashes. We’re all living under a microscope, and it’s terrifying.”