SHANDONG PROVINCE – The Chinese government initiated the Sharp Eyes project following its approval by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2016.
Sharp Eyes is the beginning of a program to dramatically increase video surveillance throughout the nation. The goal of the project is to have “coverage across all regions, sharing across all networks, availability at all times, and controllability at all points by 2020.”
Camera installation is being observed at many village entrances and on main municipal streets. Depending upon the location, cameras are being placed as close as 30 meters apart. Cameras have been positioned as far as 300 to 500 meters apart in less populous areas.
In October 2018, the Los Angeles Times reported that China already had 176 million surveillance cameras in place, “including on every block in Beijing.” The paper expected that China was on its way to becoming the world’s most monitored society. One representative told Times reporters that his district would have so many cameras that they will “cover everything, with no blind spots.”
The project is being promoted to the public as a criminal deterrent. It will work in conjunction with the country’s social credit system data banks. Using enhanced intelligence technology, the systems will “rank the trustworthiness” of China’s citizens.
Officials say that they hope the system will “create a more honest society . . . [allowing] the trustworthy [to] roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.”
Despite the marketing tactics of the CCP, the general public is skeptical that Sharp Eyes will provide the security the officials promise it will. To the contrary, one unidentified individual bemoaned the fact that…
“The CCP is already monitoring us in our homes, what privacy do we have left? It’s like we’ve all got ropes around our necks and are being led on leashes. We’re all living under a microscope, and it’s terrifying.”
Until this past week, it had not been clear who the discredited were and what might happen to them. Now that the CCP is closing unregistered churches at a record pace and placing surveillance cameras in Three-Self churches, it is becoming painfully obvious that Christians are among the discredited.
Chinese Christians see the Sharp Eyes as a prelude to more comprehensive and repressive crackdowns across the country. Every village, every town, and every major city is required to have their own monitoring stations manned by specially trained “observation office” continually on duty.
Bitter Winter has learned that “those who are known to openly practice their faith” and who gather together for worship will be subject to being taken to a secure facility where they will undergo transformation by re-education. An auxiliary police officer confided in Bitter Winter that,
“The country is now taking measures to crack down on all kinds of religious beliefs. Some policies of the nationwide campaign to ‘clean up gang crime and eliminate evil’ have actually been formulated to target religious believers.”
Missions Box encourages readers to pray for our fellow believers living in the midst of increasing persecution in China and other areas of the globe. We should pray also that we will not lose either the freedom of religion or freedom of expression that we hold so dearly.
To read more news on China on Missions Box, go here.
- Bitter Winter, New Surveillance Program Tracks the Religious
- Bitter Winter, Religious Suppressions Intensify in Shandong
- Los Angeles Times, China’s new surveillance program aims to cut crime. Some fear it’ll do much more