12/16/2022 - Politics and Society

China: Control society or uncontrolled society?

By anna kaplun

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Imagen de portada

Information is the most important and most disputed geopolitical resource in the world

The Chinese agent, Xi Jinping, is very clear. As Ross Andersen expresses in the article "The Panopticon is Already Here" for The Atlantic, the President of the People's Republic of China wants his country to achieve the supremacy of Artificial Intelligence (IA) by 2030. Its goal is to use the incredible analytical attributes of this technology to put China at the forefront of surveillance, building a digital social control system that sees it all.The pandemic excuse served as a screen for this regimen to implement a bold series of control measures. For example: the system of risk points in which an algorithm attributed to each citizen a red, yellow or green color - to determine their possibilities of circulation on the public. The company that developed this application, sent user data to the real-time police. The use of this information was discretionary according to the political needs of the authorities. Tools presented for health care, but which can easily be used to guarantee the health of the regime.Finding me with this information, which was published in September 2020, not only produced a big impact, but also generated me a big question:

How many protest possibilities are left for Chinese citizens when they are being complete and absolutely watched?

When the State manages a monopoly of data, large-scale political organization could be impossible. And yet, recently, the Chinese demonstrated with cunning and creativity that no system can be so absolute.The trigger of this phenomenon was the fire of a residential building in Urumqi in which 10 residents died. The restrictions by COVID were the excuse that was given to explain why it was not possible to rescue civilians. The residents of this city, who were tolerating more than 100 days of strict quarantine, went out to public space and lowered their anger. And the anger spread.Initially, protesters seemed to be content with the elimination of pandemic restrictions. However, the youngest were added to express their frustration with the authorities. Some demanded greater political freedoms, others condemned the dictatorship and the eternal government, but the boldest plan was born in Shanghai, the city and the largest financial center in China, where the crowds openly asked Xi to “dimitia”.As the legitimacy of a regime is increasingly sustained in censorship, it is evident that controlling information is elementary for its system. His hegemony needs to isolate his citizens from the political reality of the rest of the world. That is why the signs of organized dissent have little place and odds in digital space.However, in recent days, while the Chinese frustrated by anti-Civil policies have gone out to the streets, the videos of the marches have proliferated on the Chinese websites. Some experts say that the large volume of content should have exceeded the censorship capacity of automated software. The protests also demonstrated that a growing number of Chinese are using some kind of software that allows them to access websites such as Twitter and Instagram, usually blocked in China.And since these sites are beyond the reach of the Chinese authorities, they act as a repository, ensuring them the survival of digital evidence. Another strategy of young people is to increase the videos edited in a superimposed and expressly confusing way, or with symbols that the algorithm does not read, avoiding identification and censorship. These shortcuts that meet the system present a new challenge to the authorities, who discover that their technological resources are obsolete against the human factor.In the short term, the government had to give in to the people's claims. It was possible to observe some relaxation in anti-COVID policies. Some cities eliminated the negative test requirement for free public circulation, and even allowed citizens to become quarantine in their homes rather than transport them to quarantine centers. But there are still many restrictions.Finally, my initial plan was poorly formulated. The question shouldn't have been how much they could, but how they would.

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anna kaplun

anna kaplun

Hi, I'm Anna, Lic. in Social Sciences at Torcuato Di Tella University. I work at T4 Education as a Data and Technology Executive. Passed by observing and trying to understand social and human phenomena. With enthusiasm for creating new solutions to problems that feel very old. And especially interested in the development and impact of new technologies, both socially and politically.

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