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Eight Of The Ten Most-Surveilled Cities In The World Are In China

The two other non-Chinese cities in the top ten are outside Asia, while Singapore appeared in 11th place.

by Meera Navlakha
21 August 2019, 7:35am

Photo by Cory Doctorow via Flickr.

By 2020, China is predicted to have 626 million CCTV cameras. This means the country will have one public camera for every two people on its streets. Needless to say, the Chinese government is watching its citizens – and quite closely, at that.

But the track China is currently on shouldn’t come as a surprise. A new report, released on August 15 by UK-based research firm Comparitech, found that China’s citizens are the most surveilled in the world.

According to Business Insider, eight Chinese cities made up the top ten when it comes to the most monitored cities.

At number one comes Chongqing, a city in Southwest China, which reportedly features 2.5 million cameras for 15.3 million people. Here, there are 168.03 cameras per 1,000 people.

Following Chongqing are Shenzhen and Shanghai, with 159.09 and 11.346 cameras per 1,000 people, respectively. More alarmingly, Shenzhen is about to make this number a whole lot bigger–current plans are to increase cameras by 1,145 percent.

If the plan for Shenzhen is implemented throughout China, there could be “a total of 2.29 billion cameras,” said Comparitech.

The other Chinese cities on the list are Tianjin, Ji’nan, Wuhan, Guangzhou, and Beijing.

China is no stranger to using CCTV footage to control and watch its citizens. Notably, Urumqi – which is number 14 on the list – is the capital of Xinjiang, the region of China where Uighur Muslims are being continuously persecuted and monitored by government officials. By using high-tech surveillance, the government is policing the Uighur population systematically, according to a New York Times report from May 2019.

Among the top ten most-surveilled cities, the only non-Chinese cities are London (68.40 cameras per 1,000 people) and Atlanta, Georgia in the United States (15.56 cameras per 1,000 people). London came in at sixth place, while Atlanta is at tenth.

Singapore didn’t make it into the top ten but showed up at 11th place with 15.25 cameras per 1,000 people. That makes the city the third most surveilled place globally, outside of China.

Following Singapore are Abu Dhabi, Chicago, Urumqi, Sydney, Baghdad, Dubai, Moscow and Berlin. Delhi came in at 20th place.

When it comes to surveillance, the researchers behind the report observed that the correlation between surveillance and safety is actually noticeably weak.

“A higher number of cameras just barely correlates with a higher safety index and lower crime index. Broadly speaking, more cameras doesn’t necessarily result in people feeling safer,” the report reads.

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