Asia In-Depth Podcast: Is Chinese-Style Surveillance the Future?

A video billboard of Xi Jinping overlooks Kashgar, China

People walk past a screen showing images of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Kashgar, in China's western Xinjiang region, on June 4, 2019. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)

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Less than a decade ago, amid the drama of the Arab Spring, it was fashionable to predict that technology would fatally weaken authoritarian governments around the world. These views now seem hopelessly outdated — and nowhere is this more the case than in China. There, the ruling Communist Party has subjected the Muslim population of Xinjiang to severe restrictions and an extraordinary degree of high-tech surveillance.

What exactly is Chinese-style surveillance like — and will it spread to other dictatorships around the world? And what responsibilities do tech companies have to ensure their services do not contribute to democracy’s erosion?

In this episode of Asia In-Depth, BuzzFeed News correspondent Megha Rajagopalan talks about her reporting on these questions with Asia Society’s Matt Schiavenza. The two spoke on the sidelines of this year’s Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit in San Francisco, which Megha attended as a member of Asia 21’s Class of 2019.

About the Author

Profile picture for user Matt Schiavenza

Matt Schiavenza is the Assistant Director of Content at Asia Society. His work has appeared at The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, The New Republic, Fortune, and strategy + business among other publications.