Beijing Under A Sky of Surveillance Cameras to Stop Crimes

Beijing Under A Sky of Surveillance Cameras to Stop Crimes
Photo Credit:Reuters/ 達志影像
What you need to know

The Beijing police says the complete coverage of the surveillance system is to prevent people from gathering and to avoid street crime. The capital, for the first time, is now totally covered with street cameras in every corner since the government initiated the surveillance system in 2012.

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Chinese activist artist Ai Weiwei revealed earlier on his Instagram that multiple hidden listening devices were found in his studio in Beijing after he came back from his trip to Germany. This has raised concern again about how much the Chinese government has been probing into the lives of people in China.

In fact, during the Golden Week Holiday in China, the streets of Beijing has seen a 29% rise in the number of cameras compared to the same time last year. Video surveillance has fully covered Beijing and its suburbs.

Morning Post quoted the Beijing police saying the complete coverage of the surveillance system is to prevent people from gathering and to avoid street crime. The capital, for the first time, is now totally covered with street cameras in every corner since the government initiated the surveillance system in 2012.

Ming Pao reports, during Beijing’s hosting of the 2008 Summer Olympics, the total number of surveillance cameras in the capital was more than 30,000, not including ones installed in taxis, so the current amount of surveillance cameras should be more than 30,000 in order to cover the entire area.

Photo Credit: Reuters

Authorities stress that with the “skynet" of surveillance cameras, a total of 4,300 people took part in video patrolling. Around 1,500 cases were cracked, 2,370 suspects were arrested (increasing by 5% compared to last year), 1,190 street crimes were detected (increasing by 3% compared to last year) and the frequency of patrol interrogation was raised to 55.44 million times (increasing by 76.9% compared to last year). The number of criminal and security cases reported in Beijing has decreased by 27.7%.

The Number of Surveillance Cameras in Changsha has reached up to 50,000

In addition to Beijing, cities across China have also launched “skynet projects." Xinhua News reports, Changsha in Hunan province has been operating the skynet project since 2011, investing CN$ 528 million (approximately US$ 83 million) to install around 27,000 HD video surveillance cameras and 4,000 monitors on buses. In 2014, 6,400 HD video surveillance cameras were set in rural areas. The total number of surveillance cameras has already reached up to 50,000.

The Good and Bad of Eyes in the Sky

Ming Pao reports, the “eyes in the sky" are just like a double-edged sword. The cameras can dismiss suspicion for people, such as in commonly seen cases in China where elderlies pretend to fall down to collect money from kind people. But chances are the cameras could be used as tools to monitor dissidents and record footage of the daily activities of residents.

Freelance writer Zhu Xin-xin considers this issue to be part of the stability maintenance of the Chinese government. “The government setting up the surveillance system means it is scared of the people. It wants to prevent the people from gathering and promoting certain ideas in the area. It also fears that some people might conduct terrorist acts in huge crowds to cripple the official image."

Translated by June
Edited by Olivia Yang

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