(Ben Green) #1

52 Time December 2–9, 2019

every morning, mrs. Chen dons her brighT purple Tai Chi
pajamas and joins the dozen or so other members of Hongmen Martial
Arts Group for practice outside Chongqing’s Jiangnan Stadium. But a few
months ago, she was in such a rush to join their whirling sword-dance rou-
tine that she dropped her purse. Fortunately, a security guard noticed it
lying in the public square via one of the overhead security cameras. He
placed it at the lost and found, where Mrs. Chen gratefully retrieved it later.
“Were it not for these cameras, someone might have stolen it,”
Mrs. Chen, who asked to be identified by only her surname, tells TIME
on a smoggy morning in China’s sprawling central megacity. “Having
these cameras everywhere makes me feel safe.”

What sounds like a lucky escape is almost to
be expected in Chongqing, which has the dubious
distinction of being the world’s most surveilled
city. The seething mass of 15.35 million people
straddling the confluence of the Yangtze and
Jialing rivers boasted 2.58 million surveillance
cameras in 2019, according to an analysis
published in August by the tech-research website
Comparitech. That’s a frankly Orwellian ratio
of one CCTV camera for every 5.9 citizens—or
30 times their prevalence in Washington, D.C.



China shows the worrying future of the surveillance state By Charlie Campbell





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