China is covertly conducting surveillance and even tracking people’s movements in North America using what’s called “a social credit system,” trying to advance its totalitarian authority all over the world even in free nations.
The Gatestone Institute, a non-partisan, not-for-profit international policy council, and think tank, reports seven years ago, China’s State Council issued guidelines for the establishment of a national “social credit system” by 2020, with the feeds from about 626 million surveillance cameras and smartphone scanners and with data from a multitude of sources.
The system was designed to keep tabs on every Chinese citizen’s behavior. For example, criticizing China’s communist ruler Xi Jinping would result in the lowering of one’s score, which could result in consequences for the individual.
People with low scores could be denied social services, mortgages and even could be banned from traveling on trains or airplanes. There are also “interconnecting repercussions for family, friends, associates, and businesses both in and outside China,” Ina Mitchell, an investigative journalist and co-author with Scott McGregor of the upcoming The Mosaic Effect, told Gatestone.
And this system has now been detected far from communist China’s shores, operating at a restaurant in Vancouver, Canada. The Haidilao Hot Pot has more than 60 cameras watching 30 tables with the video feeds going to China. The restaurant is part of a chain of 935 restaurants that are corporate-owned and began operations in China’s Sichuan province.
The Gatestone Institute points out besides a national security risk, the secretive transmission of video to China is a violation of British Columbian law under the province’s Personal Information Protection Act.
There are several of these systems in place, but the Chinese Communist Party’s central committee has apparently set 2025 as the target for a national system, according to The Diplomat. In the meantime, a lot of information is being collected, the website notes.
Why would Beijing be interested in the patrons of a Vancouver restaurant? Because the Chinese government sees the Canadian city as a gateway into North America, “where they engage in pervasive foreign interference activity, mobilizing overseas United Front units to strategically lure political and business leaders using financial inducements and other incentives to promote the Party’s agenda,” according to The Diplomat.
The restaurant is also located near the house of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, who since 2019 has been fighting extradition to the U.S. on charges that she tried to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran. In 2020, Meng was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on charges of trade secrets theft which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment, according to The Verge.
China also wants such a system to keep tabs on the rest of the world and has made the effort to do so. From 2012 to 2017, they secretly downloaded data from the computers housed in the Beijing-donated and Chinese-built headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia through Huawei servers, according to the BBC.
China’s Communist Party is creating the world’s first digital totalitarian state and so far, western democracies don’t seem to care, The Gatestone Institute noted.