We Have Been Harmonized: Life in China’s Surveillance State

Kai Strittmatter, trans. from the German by Ruth Martin. Custom House, $28.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-302729-9
In this fine-grained and alarming portrait of modern-day China, German journalist Strittmatter details how President Xi Jinping’s “thirst for power” and the tools of big data and artificial intelligence are paving the way for “the return of totalitarianism under digital garb.” After decades of economic and social reforms, the Chinese Communist Party was “stricken by a mood of crisis,” Strittmatter writes, until Xi was inaugurated as its leader in 2012 and began a campaign to reassert Party control over “every last corner of society.” Nowadays, sperm bank donors are required to have “excellent ideological qualities,” and the government’s “social credit system” aims to record “every action and transaction by each Chinese citizen in real time and to respond... with rewards and penalties.” Strittmatter documents the use of surveillance technologies to oppress Muslim Uighurs, explores how desire for access to the Chinese market “warps” Western businesses and politicians; notes the disappearance of three citizen journalists during the coronavirus crisis in Wuhan, and examines how Xi Jinping’s “New Silk Road” trade initiatives lay the groundwork for “a new world order determined by China.” Drawing on a wealth of experience in China, Strittmatter stuffs the book with telling details and incisive analysis. Even veteran China watchers will be impressed and enlightened. Agent: Markus Hoffmann, Regal Hoffmann & Associates. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/17/2020
Release date: 09/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-06-302731-2
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-0-06-302861-6
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