Jul 06

China Watch Blog has learnt about a brilliant idea mooted by some smart alec to instal an ambitious new surveillance project in China – a citywide network of as many as 500,000 cameras that officials say will prevent crime. But human-rights advocates warn it could target political dissent.

SL500_AA300 surveillance camera

The Wall Street Journal reported that Western companies including Cisco Systems Inc. are poised to help the country make this scheme a reality.

SL500_AA300

The system, being built in the city of Chongqing over the next two to three years, is among the largest and most sophisticated video-surveillance projects of its kind in China, and perhaps the world. Dubbed “Peaceful Chongqing,” it is planned to cover a half-million intersections, neighborhoods and parks over nearly 400 square miles, an area more than 25% larger than New York City.

SL500_AA300

The project sheds light on how Western tech companies sell their wares in China, the Middle East and other places where there is potential for the gear to be used for political purposes and not just safety. The products range from Internet-censoring software to sophisticated networking gear. China in particular has drawn criticism for treating political dissent as a crime and has a track record of using technology to suppress it.

An examination of the Peaceful Chongqing project by The Wall Street Journal shows Cisco is expected to supply networking equipment that is essential to operating large and complicated surveillance systems, according to people familiar with the deal.

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