Coronavirus has ushered in a new wave of surveillance in an effort to ensure that social distancing measures are followed and citizens conform. China is ramping up its surveillance and taking it to the next level – and could be a sign of what's to come in the West as both surveillance and censorship that Chinese citizens have endured for years has been increasing in the Western world.
China, under the guise of coronavirus pandemic, has been increasing its surveillance and now putting its citizens on a tight leash – even more than usual. What's more, reports say that China is now using tech giants and private companies to share private and confidential user data for “anti-epidemic purposes”. And rightly so – there is a widespread belief that the updated and augmented surveillance standards may become permanent too.
For a while now, Tibet has been under China's thumb. As a result, the region doesn't welcome any free and independent research or investigation efforts. Media reps, researchers, and journalists have often failed to penetrate Tibet to report on the extent of surveillance Tibetans are subjected to. It is, however, clearly established that Tibet is China's surveillance stronghold.
From manned and unmanned checkpoints to CCTV cameras and AI systems, Tibet is under surveillance of the highest order.
Furthermore, China has also started “re-education” centers under the guise of national security and are further repressing the region. It is also worth noting that based on what whistleblowers from Tibet say, the internet speed in Tibet is generally low, and keeps getting slower when there is any political disturbance, thought to be a way to subtly cut dissent.
With the world's highest 5G station now built on Mount Everest, which is very close to Tibet, it is being speculated that Tibetans will be subjected to even more surveillance. Aside from the station on Mount Everest, China has also built three more 5G stations in Tibet as well. As of now, in Tibet, 5G stations are in the Lhasa Post and Telecommunications school, Huawei's building, and the office of Tibet Post groups in Lhasa.
Here's what a resident of Lhasa, Tibet, said to Bitter Winter in a recent interview:
“Chinese government ensures streaming quality with the capabilities of optimization for introduction of 5G, but in reality there is no much network speed difference between 5G and 4G at current”.
While 5G is generally touted as being at least 100 times faster than 4G, would there be much of a difference in Tibet, in terms of speed and bandwidth if China launches the network there? That may not really be the case; because 5G in Tibet is not for Tibetans' benefit, but for furthering China's surveillance efforts in Tibet and elsewhere across the world. “There is always slow network connection in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, Shigatse, etc. as compared to rest of Chinese cities. The speed of internet always declines if political protests occur up within the prefecture,” revealed a Tibetan.
By installing 5G on Mount Everest and elsewhere in Tibet, China simply buys itself the capability to monitor borders and deploy weapons easily when required. The 5G station, which is now installed on the summit of Mount Everest, is known to greatly aid surveillance efforts through AI. Moreover, in remote mountainous regions, installing such powerful network stations makes it increasingly apparent that they are used for improving China's surveillance efforts.
5G, on the whole, has the capacity to revolutionize cyberespionage, data theft, surveillance, and spying through global digital networks – just as we reported last year.
As of now, China has installed more than three hundred thousand 5G network relays, which is roughly ten times more than what the US have.
Furthermore, these network relays, paired with CCTV cameras that have facial recognition technology are tracking the moments of Tibetans and carrying out full-blown mass surveillance in the region. Currently, Chinese tech giants including Tencent Holdings, Alibaba, Baidu, iFlyTek, and many other companies are helping in conducting mass surveillance across Tibet. The Chinese government is giving companies a heavy tax break if they set shop in Tibet.
Tibet is already suffering from heavy intrusion, privacy invasion, surveillance, and extreme control. With the introduction of 5G in the region, surveillance will be more efficient than ever before.