China’s Surveillance Programs

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The Chinese government is renowned for implementing expansive digital surveillance and censorship protocols that the international community has widely criticised. These surveillance systems have become highly sophisticated and are used to monitor, filter, and control internet activity in China.

Recently, a series of documents have been leaked which have linked Huawei to China’s vast surveillance programs. These documents have shown the level of control and surveillance that the Chinese Communist Party has been exerting upon its citizens with the help of Huawei.

This essay will introduce the range of Chinese Government Surveillance Programs and briefly discuss their implications nationally and globally. Specifically, it will cover the Golden Shield Project, the Great Firewall, facial recognition technology, mobile tracking systems and drone technologies. These tools have been widely implemented to varying degrees across China’s vast landscape to monitor citizens on all levels (verbal/visual communication and action). In addition, this essay will critically evaluate the impact of these surveillance strategies from both social as well as economic perspectives. Overall, China is at the vanguard of innovative digital control strategies which necessitates a greater degree of global scrutiny to protect human rights worldwide.


Recently, a series of documents have been leaked which have linked Huawei to China’s vast surveillance programs. These documents have shown the level of control and surveillance that the Chinese Communist Party has been exerting upon its citizens with the help of Huawei. This article will provide some context to explain the importance of these documents and the implications of China’s surveillance programs.

Overview of China’s Surveillance Programs

The Chinese government has invested heavily in surveillance technologies to monitor and control its citizens. This includes the widespread use of facial recognition and artificial intelligence (AI) systems and traditional human manpower and physical infrastructure. The systems have been implemented nationwide, with over 200 million AI-enabled cameras installed in public spaces nationwide.

China’s surveillance programs have raised international alarm due to the potential for human rights violations, including monitoring political dissent, harvesting of sensitive personal data, and manipulating the population by an authoritarian state. Beyond surveillance at home, China’s technological advances have put the country at the forefront of a global competition for influence over science, technology and innovation policy worldwide.

In addition to facial recognition, China uses AI to develop tactics for mass surveillance such as voice recognition systems and strategies that combine images from multiple sources into a single compilation known as “Deep Fake” technology. AI models are also being used to aggregate multiple data sources from citizens’ activities like online purchases and biometric information like facial scans or DNA tests into a single “social credit score” system used for monitoring individual behaviour and loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). These methods are thought by some analysts to be necessary tools for members of an authoritarian system to distinguish loyalty from dissent.

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Overview of Huawei

Huawei is a Chinese technology and networking company founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei, a former People’s Liberation Army engineer. Huawei is the world’s largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment, with revenue of $105.4 billion, operating in more than 170 countries worldwide. As of 2020, its consumer product portfolio includes the operating system HarmonyOS; mobile phones; tablets; wearable devices; cloud services; smart home products and solutions; 5G networks and platforms products such as base stations and core networks. In addition to consumer electronics, Huawei also provides enterprise solutions including information security, Internet of Things (IoT), unified communication and collaboration systems, servers and storage systems, networking services, and its industrial mobile phone processors.

As Huawei’s reputation for delivering quality products has grown throughout China and other developing countries that lack robust infrastructure support systems — such as India or Africa — the company increasingly has been targeted for its involvement in China’s surveillance programs. Critics say that Huawei is allowing China’s government to monitor private communications via its telecom infrastructure. This concern has been voiced by governments from both the United States and Europe due to concerns about espionage activity from the Chinese state security services.

Huawei’s Involvement in China’s Surveillance Programs

Recent documents have linked China’s telecommunications giant Huawei to the country’s vast surveillance programs. The documents, which journalists obtained, contain purchase orders and contracts between Huawei and Chinese government agencies that suggest Huawei supplied the Chinese government with technology used to monitor its citizens. This article will delve into Huawei’s involvement in China’s surveillance programs and the implications of their actions.

Huawei’s Role in Developing Surveillance Technologies

Huawei, one of the world’s leading telecommunications equipment and technology providers, has long been accused of involvement in China’s surveillance programs. While Huawei has denied any active role in China’s surveillance efforts, its technology has been used to develop much of the equipment that powers the country’s vast surveillance infrastructure.

Huawei is a major hardware and software supplier for monitoring phone calls and data from the southwestern province Sichuan. The company also provides firewalls, tracking systems, and facial-recognition technology used by Chinese authorities to track citizens. In addition, Huawei reportedly produces special-purpose camera sensors for creating 3D profiles of people which can be analysed for facial recognition and biometric information such as heart rate and body temperature.

China’s government’s use of Huawei’s equipment has been controversial in recent years due to concerns about privacy and personal freedom. To address these concerns, the company has taken steps to better limit how customers can collect data through its products. For example, Huawei recently released “SmartProtect 2.0” software which aims to better control how third parties access information stored on customers’ devices.

Despite these steps forward, many question whether Huawei is doing enough to protect people’s privacy and data when it comes to government surveillance operations in China or other countries worldwide where its technologies are being used or sold. This issue remains important both inside and outside of China and will continue to be discussed as more data becomes available on worldwide surveillance activities powered by sources like Huawei’s network equipment.

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Huawei’s Role in Implementing Surveillance Technologies

The Chinese government has long been criticised for its extensive network of surveillance programs in the country, and many foreign businesses have become implicated in these activities. One of China’s biggest technology firms is Huawei, who has been accused of enabling the implementation of these surveillance technologies. Huawei is known for developing communications networks and selling consumer electronics, including phones and laptops. Still, the company also offers cutting-edge technology that governments have used to tighten security controls. The firm has stated publicly that it does not engage in activities that would constitute espionage or harm national security, however reports suggest it is involved in and/or profiting from aiding China’s surveillance apparatus.

In recent years, Huawei has become embroiled in several controversies involving its involvement with surveillance implementations across China. This includes allegations that the company assisted China’s government in constructing systems to monitor Uighur Muslim populations and providing facial recognition software to monitor citizens within their own homes. In addition, investigations conducted by news outlets have recently revealed that the Chinese telecoms giant was part of a network of companies responsible for enabling Beijing’s ‘social credit system’ – an Orwellian program designed to reward individuals with good behaviour while punishing those who do not abide by its rules or conventions with sanctions such as banning them from buying plane tickets or attending universities.

The full extent of Huawei’s involvement in China’s surveillance apparatus remains unclear. Still, as one of the nation’s largest tech companies it appears inevitable for them to be implicated in some form or another given state regulation over information security policies. As debate rages across international media about examining how advanced nation states use technologies like facial recognition software to perform long-term individual monitoring operations – Huawei’s role will remain a key point of discussion among news outlets covering Chinese affairs.

Evidence of Huawei’s Involvement

Documents leaked by a former employee of Huawei have revealed the company’s involvement in China’s surveillance programs. According to the reports, Huawei has provided the Chinese government with technology to help create its surveillance apparatus. These documents indicate Huawei’s direct involvement with the Chinese government in developing surveillance technologies. Let’s take a look at the evidence of Huawei’s involvement in China’s surveillance programs.

Documents link Huawei to China’s surveillance programs

Documents recently made public appear to link Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the Chinese telecoms giant, to Beijing’s surveillance program targeting the Uighur minority. The documents, which include evidence of sales of risky surveillance equipment and software to authorities in Xinjiang province, show how Huawei sold some products to local governments in the region and identified mobile networks as potential targets for monitoring. These products are all related to facial recognition, data encryption and data interception as they can be used by Chinese security forces in recognizing and tracking people’s movements.

The documents also include correspondence between Huawei executives and local government workers who requested help building cellular networks capable of intercepting messages sent through popular chat applications such as WeChat. The correspondence suggests that these networks could monitor all communications sent over the cellular network without users being aware. Huawei has denied involvement with China’s surveillance programs or connection with any activities related to “unlawful or inappropriate behaviour” referring only to fulfilling contracts in response to customer demands on network responses for telecoms services required by those customers. However, the documents raise significant questions about the company’s involvement in China’s large-scale surveillance activities targeting minority populations such as Uighurs within its own borders.

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Witnesses and Testimonies from Former Huawei Employees

Testimonies and statements from former Huawei employees have provided evidence of the company’s involvement in China’s surveillance and censorship efforts. For example, as early as 2005, Huawei’s Surveillance Gear and Technical Assistance teams worked on projects for Chinese government agencies that enabled video monitoring technologies to be installed and maintained throughout China.

In 2008, one former employee began working for Huawei on a project to install television surveillance technology in the city of Shenzhen. The employee stated that he was aware the technology would be used for public surveillance purposes, saying “I knew the project would help Shenzhen become a police state… But, for me, it wasn’t just a job. I thought I was helping China become more developed.” Former employees also say that when they refused requests from Chinese law enforcement officials to conduct certain activities, their managers instructed them to comply with these requests or risk losing their jobs.

Documents leaked by a former employee of Huawei have revealed the company’s involvement in China’s surveillance programs. According to the reports, Huawei has provided the Chinese government with technology to help create its surveillance apparatus.

Additionally, media reports suggest that Huawei was involved in installing systems for Xinjiang’s domestic surveillance system known as Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IHOP). Witnesses allege that the scenes of violence witnessed during anti-government protests between 2009-2018 were all related to IHOP. Further evidence of Huawei’s involvement in China’s surveillance program includes its past CEO Ren Zhengfei’s alleged connections with several local governments where his company was deploying citizens’ monitoring projects and allegations suggesting Mr. Zhengfei is receiving kickbacks from Chinese government agencies who utilise his company’s services.


In conclusion, China’s surveillance program is a complex and all-encompassing system of surveillance technologies that allows the Chinese government to control, monitor, and influence its citizens. This expansive surveillance system has given rise to many ethical implications, including infringement on civil liberties, heightened costs of living due to additional taxes imposed upon the population, and possible scenarios where individuals are targeted due to their beliefs. However, the Chinese government claims that this expansive surveillance structure is meant to protect its citizens by identifying potential corporate or state security risks and allowing them to be dealt with before engaging in greater activities.

Despite this claim there are still considerable reservations about what measures are actually taken during these procedures. Issues such as data collection from mobile phones so that it can be used for AI-assisted decision making still have not been fully understood by the public yet unconfirmed reports continue to emerge from Chinese sources about programs such as the Super Character Recognition System (SCRS). Furthermore, the lack of transparency provides no means for external organisations or independent parties to help with monitoring initiatives at this time. While this type of oversight might eventually appear down the road when partially or completely automated decision making systems have been tested and accepted enough within society it will likely take more legislative action before achieving positive results in terms of individual privacy rights within China.

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