On December 31st 2020, China launched its High-Resolution Earth Observation Centre An Hui Provincial Division. A number of local and provincial Party leaders attended the unveiling ceremony.
The Chinese civilian High-Resolution Earth Observation Satellite (CHEOS) Program was initiated in 2010 and consists of seven main satellites all of which were successfully launched by 2020 and formally put into service. The Gaofen mapping satellite series are designed to gather global three-dimensional stereo imagery. For the ruling Chinese Communist Party, reducing china’s reliance on foreign technology for satellite mapping and imaging is an urgently needed project. CHEOS is said to support China to develop into space power country from the previous space big country.
The CHEOS program boasts innocent purposes such as facilitating weather forecasting, disaster prevention, urban planning and agricultural sectors. Though the satellites, being sensitive enough to spot whether a single person is standing or sitting from 500 km up, is said also to be used for 5G development and land surveying.
The CCP views its own citizens more of a threat to its regime than foreign forces, as it habitually and justifiably (in their own view) spends more on “maintaining social security and stability”, i.e. ensuring the CCP’s “perennial ruling status”, than military budget. Perfecting satellite imaging capacity is the latest in a long series of initiatives launched to fortify China’s one-party state. It is expected to further assist china’s mass surveillance “Skynet” system, where at least 200 million CCTV cameras are already in operation. The goal is to provide all-weather, all-day surveillance of the 1.4 billion Chinese citizens inside the Firewall.
Meanwhile, China-built 5G networks are alleged to contain backdoors allowing hackers or the government, which mostly likely to be one and the same, access any and all sensitive information, personal and commercial, that is connected to the China-built internet. All private and state-owned enterprises are required by law to surrender their user data to the CCP. This, together with the omnipresent geolocation data collection point from phones, vehicles, AI interfaces, cameras, and now satellites, produces every single citizen’s all-encompassing financial, medical, political, travel, and online activity profiles. These profiles that feeds into China’s Social Credit Score system enables the government to not only pick up intelligence about “destabilizing agents” but also track their movements and activities (South China Morning Post). A low score severely limits a person’s livelihood and mobility, preventing him from buying plane and high-speed rail tickets, taking out loans, booking hotels, access to a decent internet speed, among other implications. The SCS system affects a broad range of social groups such as dissidents, underground religious groups and Xinjiang Uyghurs.
All measures of the police state apparatus are implemented in the name of “making Chinese people’s life safer and more convenient”. Propaganda and censorship do work exceedingly well with people living inside the Firewall who never get to know the alternative. The Chinese people, therefore, are subject to the most stringent and AI-enabled supervision in the world.
The Chinese Communist Party shares inherent insecurity over the legitimacy of its presence. As China resolutely moves towards a dystopian surveillance state, the level of data gathering and mass surveillance is only set to increase in the future. New technology and big data play a crucial role in not only perfecting CCP’s rule, but also making their rule crisis-proof.
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