The world’s first digital totalitarian state 1

A Communist regime has to be totalitarian. It cannot allow any degree of freedom. It cannot permit dissent.

China has experimented with capitalism. Now it is reverting to full tyranny:

Xi Jinping is not merely an authoritarian leader …  He is taking China back to totalitarianism as he seeks Mao-like control over all aspects of society.

So writes Gordon Chang at Gatestone, explaining how the Chinese state is enabled by technology to become like Orwell’s Big Brother with total surveillance of the population all the time.

By 2020, Chinese officials plan to have about 626 million surveillance cameras operating throughout the country. Those cameras will, among other things, feed information into a national “social credit system”.

That system, when it is in place in perhaps two years, will assign to every person in China a constantly updated score based on observed behaviors. For example, an instance of jaywalking, caught by one of those cameras, will result in a reduction in score.

Although officials might hope to reduce jaywalking, they seem to have far more sinister ambitions, such as ensuring conformity to Communist Party political demands. In short, the government looks as if it is determined to create what the Economist called “the world’s first digital totalitarian state“. …

Chinese officials … tell us the purpose of the initiative is to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step”.

That description is not an exaggeration. Officials prevented Liu Hu, a journalist, from taking a flight because he had a low score. …

“I can’t buy property. My child can’t go to a private school,” Liu said. “You feel you’re being controlled by the list all the time.”

The system is designed to control conduct by giving the ruling Communist Party the ability to administer punishments and hand out rewards.

Hou Yunchun, a former deputy director of the State Council’s development research center, said at a forum in Beijing in May that the social credit system should be administered so that “discredited people become bankrupt”. …

Not every official has such a vindictive attitude, but it appears that all share the assumption, as the dovish Zhi Zhenfeng of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said, that “discredited people deserve legal consequences”.

President Xi Jinping, the final and perhaps only arbiter in China, has made it clear how he feels about the availability of second chances. “Once untrustworthy, always restricted,” the Chinese ruler says.

What happens, then, to a country where only the compliant are allowed to board a plane or be rewarded with discounts for government services? No one quite knows because never before has a government had the ability to constantly assess everyone and then enforce its will. The People’s Republic has been more meticulous in keeping files and ranking residents than previous Chinese governments, and computing power and artificial intelligence are now giving China’s officials extraordinary capabilities. …

Chinese leaders have long been obsessed with what then-President Jiang Zemin in 1995 called “informatization, automation, and intelligentization”, and they are only getting started. Given the capabilities they are amassing, they could, the argument goes, make defiance virtually impossible.

Xi Jinping … evidently believes the Party must have absolute control over society and he must have absolute control over the Party. … Already Chinese officials are trying to use artificial intelligence to predict anti-Party behavior.

Are all rulers tempted to control the population totally? Without constitutional restraints, how many democracies would find their leader turning into a monarch? Especially if technology makes it possible.

We can all too easily imagine a Barack Obama, a Jerry Brown, a Bernie Sanders, a Cory Booker succumbing to the totalitarian temptation.

Technology might even make liberal democracy and free-markets “obsolete” writes Yuval Noah Harari of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the Atlantic. “The main handicap of authoritarian regimes in the 20th century — the desire to concentrate all information and power in one place — may become their decisive advantage in the 21st century.

Gordon Chang continues:

The dominant narrative in the world’s liberal democracies is that tech favors totalitarianism.

And he warns:

Beijing is almost certain to extend the social credit system, which has roots in attempts to control domestic enterprises, to foreign companies. Let us remember that Chinese leaders this year have taken on the world’s travel industry by forcing hotel chains and airlines to show Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China, so they have demonstrated determination to intimidate and punish. Once the social credit system is up and running, it would be a small step to include non-Chinese into that system, extending Xi’s tech-fueled totalitarianism to the entire world.

World-domination has always been the ultimate aim of Communism, from Karl Marx to the United Nations’ Man-Made Global Warmists.

So the wonderful inventions of free men in a free country, who had the spare time and acquired the capital to develop their ideas, are proving the best instruments for the destruction of freedom!  And oddly enough, most of the Inventors have no objection to abusive exploitation of their technologies. The inventors and tycoons of Twitter, Google, Facebook are adamantly socialist-minded.

Invention is individual. It happens only in freedom. Ironically, once total control is achieved by means of the great technological inventions of our age, there will be no more invention.

Communist totalitarian societies are stagnant. And stagnation is a long slow death.

Posted under China, Totalitarianism by Jillian Becker on Monday, September 24, 2018

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Popular revolt threatens the communist regimes of Asia 3

The fever of revolution has spread from North Africa to the communist Far East. There are stirrings of revolt in North Korea and Vietnam. And it seems possible that the Chinese people may actually achieve a change of regime.

Ryan Mauro provides information about these movements which is otherwise hard to find. He attributes the new-found courage of populations under communist tyrannies to the example of the revolutionary movements in the Arab states.

The government of North Korea is frightened:

Trouble began for the regime on February 14 after it failed to deliver promised goods in the days leading up to Kim Jong-Il’s birthday. Dozens of people in North Pyongan Province demanded electricity and food. On February 18 in Sinuiju, the security forces had a confrontation with traders at the market, resulting in an assault on one trader to the point where he was unconscious. The family members of the victim protested and were quickly joined by other traders, resulting in the deployment of more soldiers and police. A source to one newspaper reported that “hundreds” were involved in the clashes. The true number is unknown but the clashes are an unprecedented and important development in the Hermit Kingdom.

South Korea has also begun trying to incite unrest by sending tens of thousands of helium balloons delivering messages, medicine, food, clothing and radios up to 200 kilometers into North Korea. The messages inform the readers of the revolutions in the Middle East and boldly say, “a dictatorial regime is bound to collapse.” The regime is threatening to attack the areas from which the balloons are launched and has said it will destroy loudspeakers near the border if they broadcast anti-government messages into the country.

The government of Vietnam tries to silence a defiant leader:

A top democratic opposition leader named Nguyen Dan Que was arrested in late February after calling on the Vietnamese people to follow in the footsteps of the Tunisians and Egyptians. He spoke of accomplishing a “clean sweep of Communist dictatorship and build[ing] a new, free, democratic, humane and progressive Vietnam.” He was shortly thereafter released but 60,000 files from his computer were taken. The government says they will question him further as their investigation into opposition activities continues. Que is allowed to go home at night but must return to a police station during the day.

The “domino effect” of the Jasmine Revolution has “even reached China”, where security forces in large numbers have been deployed to forestall protests in Beijing, Shanghai, and eleven other cities.

Over 100 democratic activists were arrested or placed under house arrest. Greater Internetcensorship began with more websites being blocked and users were even prevented from searching the word “jasmine” on Twitter and other social networking websites.

Despite these precautions, ways of bringing protestors out on Sundays were found:

A crowd of hundreds still formed in Beijing and Shanghai and activists are spreading the word about protesting every Sunday by having “peaceful strolls” with no signs or chanting so that the police have little reason to arrest them. University campuses have been surrounded by security forces when the government has learned of the demonstrations and journalists are not being permitted to visit the protest sites. Those who do say they are harassed. Major streets and commercial centers are the scene of police dogs, security agents dressed as civilians, paramilitary personnel and special forces. The ruling party is now discussing further Internet censorship and at least 20 have been charged for their role in organizing the protests.

Gordon Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China, is quoted as predicting the near approach of “the last days of the People’s Republic”. He believes that “a single action could cause a chain of events resulting in huge changes in the government.”

“When the Chinese lose their fear—and that moment is coming soon—we will see the strength of the discontent in society,” he said.

No oppressive government can be confident in times like these. The world is focused on the rapidly changing events in the Middle East but there is a freedom movement just as important in Asia, even if few are paying attention to it.