By Hugh Coyle
China is scary. No matter what you’ve heard about the country, they’re scary.
Behind the streetwear loving and gadget enthusiasts nation lies a darker side. A communist country that will soon overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest economy. Although an upcoming superpower, it doesn’t always act as a responsible superpower as a force of good. Instead, they are a communist superpower with the number one rule being the survival of the communist party, not democracy, human rights, or the rule of law for its people. I fear China’s rise because of their facial recognition system, detaining 1 million of their own citizens, and hacking foreign governments and institutions.
This isn’t right.
China has established a facial recognition surveillance system for its civilians similar to George Orwell’s 1984 “Big Brother.” It’s called the “Golden Shield” which will become mandatory in 2020. According to The Atlantic, this “security” system evaluates citizens based on their behavior, the higher your social behavior score, the more benefits you receive. Benefits include train tickets during Chinese New Year and easier access to apartment rentals. The government is essentially bribing its citizens to behave and conform positively. Posting negative comments about the government will lower your score. And communicating with dissidents will, too. The Chinese government is molding their people to become the “ideal Chinese citizen” that is obedient towards the government.
BBC News reports that China is forcing 1 million Turkish Muslim Uighur citizens, living in Xinjiang province into work camps where they are physically and mentally tortured. Despite the solid evidence behind this accusation, China has unwaveringly denied these claims. Instead, China says they are conducting “vocational training”; whereas Uighurs who have escaped the camps and China say the Chinese are trying to eradicate their culture and sculpt them into “ideal Chinese citizens”.
When I interviewed my classmate Hani from the Xinjiang area, she reported, “the Chinese government should not deny anyone’s religious rights. It’s their choice”. I also questioned if she has seen the work camps, Hani responded with, “No, but I have heard about them”. Overseas Chinese know about this since they have full access to the internet. As a Catholic, I’ve read in the Catholic Herald that religious oppression extends to Christians. China doesn’t allow under 18 year olds into churches or religious classes. Cameras inside churches record who attends. Prayer at home is banned. Religious symbols like crosses and statues have been removed from churches’ facades.
According to Gordon Corera, BBC security correspondent, from 2006 until 2018 Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong hacked 45 commercial and defense technology companies in at least 12 states, US government agencies, and over two dozen universities to gain maritime research and technology secrets. These include the University of Hawaii, University of Washington, and MIT. Instead of admitting their crime, they denied it. This violated the 2015 agreement with the U.S. about cyber spying.
People may say that such a powerful country will have its own rules and regulations to keep the government in check; however, this is not the case in a communist country. With no rule of law, the Chinese government can do whatever it pleases.
As someone who is part Chinese, it is not easy to criticize my ancestral home, but injustice is injustice and a crime is a crime. It’s a shame that a country with a rich culture and history has become what it is today. China’s economy has a bright future, but its political effect on its own people and the world is alarming.
It’s time to grow up and play fair.