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China in 2022: One Surveillance Camera for Every Two People

Chinese cities are perhaps the most closely monitored places in the world. It is predicted that, by 2022, on average every two people in the country will be covered by a surveillance camera. The city of Chongqing currently has 2.6 million monitoring devices, or an average of 168 cameras per thousand people, higher than any other city in the world.

China plans to finish installing a social credit system by 2020. Surveillance monitors are becoming a weapon for creating so-called “smart cities” and “efficient governments.” On the streets of Shanghai, when a traffic violation occurs, the camera will immediately capture and broadcast the faces of the offenders in public, to the surprise of many foreign tourists.

The South China Morning Post quoted the British research firm Comparitech, which stated that, in the ranking of most monitors allocated to each thousand people, eight cities in China made it to the top 10. The top 10 are Chongqing, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Tianjin, Jinan, London (UK), Wuhan, Guangzhou, Beijing, and Atlanta (USA). Chongqing leads the world with 168.03 monitors per thousand people, followed by Shenzhen, with every thousand people covered by 159.09 cameras.

It is generally believed that China currently has about 200 million surveillance cameras. It is predicted that the number of cameras in China will grow by 213 percent by 2022 and reach 626 million. On average, about every two people will be within the sight of a camera.

Source: Central News Agency, August 20, 2019

Risk Prone Chinese Made Programs Abound in the World VPN App Market

Chinese companies develop about 60 percent of the world’s free VPN (virtual private network) programs and 90 percent of them have security risks. The overseas website “Top10VPN” published a survey last week, and indicated that 77 percent of the popular VPN programs have potential risks.

According to “Top10VPN,” potentially risky VPN programs have been downloaded 210 million times from the Google App Store, while the figure at the Apple’s App Store reached 3.8 million times a month. Although “Top10VPN” has already brought up the issue to Google and Apple regarding this issue and also reported that 80 percent of the free VPN programs in the app store violate Apple’s own data sharing regulations,  nevertheless, neither company seemed to care to look into the problem.

Ten years ago, the Chinese government installed a national firewall making many famous websites inaccessible in China, such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook. In order to access blocked foreign websites, many Chinese netizens try various circumvention methods, among which VPN is a stable technology.

One IT professional involved in the VPN business told the Taiwan based Central News Agency that Chinese companies’ practices of launching VPN businesses or acquiring overseas VPN operations began in 2015. After China took over the VPN companies, it has been more and more difficult for the Chinese people to circumvent the Great Firewall. Deutsche Welle also reported the worrisome fact that many VPN operators chose not to tell their customers about the information of their parent companies.

Because it is very difficult for Chinese authorities to completely block netizens from accessing overseas websites, one interviewee told Radio Free Asia, “So the Chinese government has adopted the smartest approach. If it can’t stop the users’ needs, it creates a management model that can (put people) under surveillance. This is the main reason behind the proliferation of Chinese made VPNs in major app stores.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, August 21, 2019

Lianhe Zaobao: China Warned India: Don’t Keep Huawei from Expanding in India

Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao recently reported that China has already warned India not to put up any obstacles that would keep Huawei from expanding its business in India. Otherwise the operations of Indian companies in China might suffer the consequences. Indian Minister of Telecommunications Ravi Shankar Prasad said India will start trials to establish 5G mobile networks. However, the country has not decided whether or not Huawei will be invited to participate. In May, U.S. President Trump asked the allies not to use Huawei equipment, citing national security concerns. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs met with the Indian Ambassador to China, Vikram Misri, expressing China’s worry over the influence the U.S. decision might have. Neither of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of China or India responded to the requests for comments on this matter. Compared to other major world economies, India’s business presence in China is minor.

Source: Lianhe Zaobao, August 7, 2019

Xinhua: Over 3500 Mobile Malware Found in China Last Year

Xinhua recently reported that, according to statistics that the National Internet Emergency Center provided, a total of 3,517 mobile apps offered at 314 mobile app stores were ordered to be removed from the stores. These malware apps were carrying out malicious activities across critical sectors such as financial services, daily life support, and managing payments. Such illegal behavior typically includes stealing personal information, distributing junk messages, pushing unwanted commercials, spreading fraudulent information, and even deducting fees from users’ accounts without permission. The Center captured over 2.83 million malware instances across the Chinese network, which represents an 11.7 percent year-over-year increase. China currently has a netizen population of 817 million.

Source: Xinhua, July 28, 2019

LTN: Huawei’s Software Defect Rate Is 55 Percent

Major Taiwanese news network Liberty Times Network (LTN) recently reported that the security firm Finite State’s latest research report showed that, among a sample of nearly 10,000 Huawei software images, 55 percent had at least one potential backdoor vulnerability. The research indicated that, among similar products in the industry, Huawei’s security level ranked lowest nearly across the board in all of the technical categories that were inspected. This poses a high risk to Huawei’s customers. The research also showed that the security posture of Huawei’s products did not improve over time. In addition, many security holes were not patched, or the software did not receive upgrades. Similar products manufactured by Huawei’s competitors like Nokia and Ericsson scored much higher. Nokia’s Chief Technology Officer Marcus Weldontold also claimed to have far better information security scores. Huawei refused to comment on the completeness and objectiveness of the research report but insisted the company did not intentionally plant a backdoor into any of its products.

Source: LTN, June 28, 2019

Beijing Prevents People from Knowing about Hong Kong Demonstrations

The Sunday when there was a two million people parade in Hong Kong opposing the extradition law has drawn widespread attention from the world’s media, but not from those in China. Although almost all major media such as the Associated Press, Reuters, AFP, and The Wall Street Journal gave significant coverage to the news, in mainland China the story is strictly prohibited. A netizen told Radio Free Asia that someone sent a parade video to his circle of friends in Beijing and another netizen immediately stopped it. In order to avoid the censorship, some netizens sent the Hong Kong parade pictures upside down.

In Yuncheng city of Shaanxi province, the local police summoned one netizen because he forwarded the parade pictures. The interviewee said, “The media in China is not allowed to report this. The person who forwarded the video was summoned (to the police station). I have a friend who was summoned for forwarding the videos. His phone was also confiscated.”

A civil rights activist in Changde city of Hunan province told RFA that the Hong Kong’s Sunday parade exceeded the 1.5 million people in 1989. The scene was touching. However, the mainland people can only see it when they use technology whose purpose is circumvention such as VPN.

Source: Radio Free Asia, June 17, 2019