Category Archives: surveillance

“Bo’s Downfall Is Tied to Wiretapping”

Alright, this one might be the most definitive account of exactly what got Bo in so much trouble- as it turns out, people speculating that the death of Mr. Heywood was just an excuse may have been pretty close to the truth. Nothing new about Zhou Yongkang, although note the allegations that Fang Binxing may have been involved, which could mean that we’ll end up seeing another enormously satisfying casualty before this thing ends:

When Hu Jintao, China’s top leader, picked up the telephone last August to talk to a senior anticorruption official visiting Chongqing, special devices detected that he was being wiretapped — by local officials in that southwestern metropolis.

The discovery of that and other wiretapping led to an official investigation that helped topple Chongqing’s charismatic leader, Bo Xilai, in a political cataclysm that has yet to reach a conclusion.

Nearly a dozen sources with party ties, speaking anonymously for fear of retribution, confirmed the wiretapping, as well as a widespread program of bugging across Chongqing. But the party’s public version of Mr. Bo’s fall omits it.

The murder account is pivotal to the scandal, providing Mr. Bo’s opponents with an unassailable reason to have him removed. But party insiders say the wiretapping was seen as a direct challenge to central authorities. It revealed to them just how far Mr. Bo, who is now being investigated for serious disciplinary violations, was prepared to go in his efforts to grasp greater power in China. That compounded suspicions that Mr. Bo could not be trusted with a top slot in the party, which is due to reshuffle its senior leadership positions this fall.

The architect was Mr. Wang, a nationally decorated crime-fighter who had worked under Mr. Bo in the northeast province of Liaoning. Together they installed “a comprehensive package bugging system covering telecommunications to the Internet,” according to the government media official.

One of several noted cyber-security experts they enlisted was Fang Binxing, president of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, who is often called the father of China’s “Great Firewall,” the nation’s vast Internet censorship system.

“Bo wanted to push the responsibility onto Wang,” one senior party official said. “Wang couldn’t dare say it was Bo’s doing.”

Yet at some point well before fleeing Chongqing, Mr. Wang filed a pair of complaints to the inspection commission, the first anonymously and the second under his own name, according to a party academic with ties to Mr. Bo.

Both complaints said Mr. Bo had “opposed party central” authorities, including ordering the wiretapping of central leaders. The requests to investigate Mr. Bo were turned down at the time. Mr. Bo, who learned of the charges at a later point, told the academic shortly before his dismissal that he thought he could withstand Mr. Wang’s charges.

Alright, if Zhou Yongkang is still going to coast through this one, having Fang Binxing disgraced and blacklisted by Beijing would be almost as good. He may have survived having a pair of shoes thrown at him by a Chinese student, but surviving the aftermath of colluding with a surveillance scheme aimed at Zhongnanhai might be harder.

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Filed under 2012 power transfer, Chongqing Model/Bo Xilai, surveillance

“China Installed More Than 10,000,000 Surveillance Cameras in 2010″

From Public Intelligence, news that China is developing its domestic surveillance capabilities at lightning speed:

Beijing police have ordered supermarkets and shopping malls to install high-definition security cameras, as China continues its huge expansion in monitoring technology.

The country has added millions of surveillance cameras over the last five years, part of a broader increase in domestic security spending.

In May, Shanghai announced that a team of 4,000 monitor its surveillance feeds to ensure round-the-clock coverage. The south-western municipality of Chongqing has announced plans to add 200,000 cameras by 2014 because “310,000 digital eyes are not enough”.

Urumqi, which saw vicious ethnic violence in 2009, installed 17,000 high-definition, riot-proof cameras last year to ensure “seamless” surveillance. Fast-developing Inner Mongolia plans to have 400,000 units by 2012. In the city of Changsha, the Furong district alone reportedly has 40,000 – one for every 10 inhabitants.

There are cameras on streets and in stores, in university classrooms and outside the doors of dissidents. In March, Beijing roused disquiet in the arts world when it mooted plans to spend 5.57m yuan on cameras to monitor performances in venues such as cinemas and theatres.

As they say, Britain has also gotten pretty camera-crazy. Here, however, it isn’t just the possibility that they’ll be used for Big Brother-style surveillance: it’s absolutely assured that they will.

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Filed under China, surveillance

“Cisco’s surveillance tools: China vs. China”

Peking Duck writes about the deal Cisco recently concluded with the Chongqing city government:

A few days ago I read with interest a detailed article in the WSJ on the project to install a massive surveillance system under the singularly Orwellian name “Peaceful Chongqing.” According to the government, “Peaceful Chongqing” will be set up for benign purposes such as large-scale spying on its citizens traffic control and maintaining a harmonious society. Naturally, much of the technology will be provided by Cisco, without whose expertise the Great Firewall wouldn’t be what it is today. HP, it seems, will also be helping out.

Then I read today that this story has taken a humorous twist. It’s not just US human rights organizations that are complaining about the involvement of US companies in this dubious project, but Chinese nationalists who maintain if China wants to spy on its own people it should use its own technology to do so.

Can I just chime in on this one here? Hey Cisco and HP- I know you guys are corporations, so you have no qualms about doing any kind of awful inhuman thing in your quest for another dollar or two- but could you please try to be just a little bit less loathsome? Tone it down a notch or two? Providing expertise and technology to a system which will be used to extend the fist of the Chinese government as it smashes Chinese citizens, to death in some cases… some shameful stuff right there.

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Filed under China, Great Firewall, surveillance