By Tenzin Dharpo
A CCTV near Lhasa city's iconic potala palace in occupied Tibet. photo- The Tibet Bureau Geneva.
DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 28: As panelists from international tech giants at the 7th UN Forum on Business and Human Rights discussed incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI) in technologies to improve and alleviate human right standards around the world on Monday in Geneva, a mammoth development on the contrary has been already tested, employed and now exported by China.
China’s use of cutting edge technology including Artificial Intelligence (AI) in mass surveillance technology in further restricting human rights in occupied territories such as Tibet and Xinjiang is now being exported and sold to other states, Special Appointee for Human Rights, Kunchok Yaklha said at the panel discussion.
She said, “There are countries like China that’s exporting AI to repressive regimes around the world for state surveillance. Now, the blueprint for the grid-system is being sold to other countries around the world.”
“The mass surveillance of Uyghurs has garnered international attention. However, what many people don’t know is that the grid-system used in Xinjiang was actually implemented in the so-called Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR). The Communist Party Secretary who created the grid-system in TAR was then promoted to Xinjiang where he implemented it again,” Yaklha further said.
Researchers say that surveillance systems in Xinjiang and Tibet are more advanced than that of mainland China with occupied territories effectively seen as testing grounds. The grid system and collection of DNA samples for consolidating a database of subjects were initially tested in Tibet and Xinjiang respectively.
Currently, China’s surveillance tech arsenal as well as physical measures for scrutiny include the grid management system, village-based cadre system, 24X7 convenience police post and collection of DNA samples, AI powered facial recognition CCTV cameras, among others.
“What these technological advancements in surveillance do is that it translates into more sense of suffocation on the ground for the common mass as their personal spaces and privacy are being irreversibly invaded,” Dr. Tenzin Tsultrim, a research fellow at Central Tibetan Administration’s think-tank, Tibet Policy Institute, told Phayul.
The Tibetan researcher also said that such unprecedented mass surveillance may eventually lead to more unrest in Tibet and Xinjiang that has seen upheavals despite record spending on domestic security by Beijing.
In his article ‘A Boiling Pot: The CCP’s Increasingly Intrusive Surveillance in Tibet’ published in The Diplomat on September 22, Dr. Tsultrim argues, “The increasingly intrusive surveillance, leading to the infringement of one’s privacy, may become a cause for the future unrest. It now seems clear that, if the CCP continues its current ongoing repressive policies in Tibet and Xinjiang, it will have boiling pots, rather than melting pots, in its backyard.”