a spirit of paranoia - and the push for a complete control over the
populus - typical of every totalitarian system, in China, you can see cameras
on almost every corner. You can see them in any place; like squares, streets,
intersections, entrances and exits of toll highways, monuments, and any
place where one may expect higher density, or flow, of people. It
is true not only of big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, etc. In
smaller cities, along bigger and mid-size highways and freeways,
cameras are often located every few kilometers, sometimes as close
as one or less kilometer apart. Even some of the smaller places we
had a chance to visit so far have cameras in their biggest
some places, you may see cordons of police, military, and
plain-clothe police, along the railroad tracks, facing away
from the tracks, as if to stop someone from accessing the passing
trains. Some of those lines stretch for many kilometers. In some
places, you can see police and unmarked cars with police and
individuals wearing plain clothes, holding walkie-talkie's and cell
phones in their hands.
is a normal picture to see a police officer stopping a cyclist and
checking the person's belongings. It seems that this type of
"routine" stops serve no real purpose. After all, who
cares how much onion, or some other vegetable, someone houls in a
bag, on the back of their bike... It seems, though, that the society
has to live with this perpetual reminder that the government can do
this kind of thing whenever they feel like it.
we all remember the events of Tian An Men Square in 1989?
High-resolution cameras were a big help in identifying and hunting
down so many of the "antigovernment criminals",
"saboteurs", "antirevolutionaries", and whatever
other terms were used.
As we learned
from people who remember the 1989 events, pictures of the
demonstrators in the Chinese media were usually mixed with images
and propaganda about "brutal attacks" on the officials by
the "antigovernment forces". Our American friends - a
couple that lived in China at that time - told us about the vicious
propaganda and untruthful reports in the Chinese media; including
photographs of the Communist Party members hanging from bridges...
density of the locations of the cameras in many places would be
ridiculous, if not for the thought that the totalitarian system
places them there for a good reason, and the actual security of the
average person on the street seems to be the last thing that's on
their mind. This seems to be true not only about this particular
government. Can we see the emerging pattern, finally?