Maya Wang, a senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch, has written extensively on the use of torture, arbitrary detention, human rights defenders, civil society, and the use of technology in mass surveillance in China. (August 2019)

Follow Maya Wang on Twitter: @wang_maya.


Data Leviathan: China’s Burgeoning Surveillance State

Laser pointers being used by protesters in Hong Kong in an effort to defeat surveillance cameras and facial recognition software used by the authorities, China, August 7, 2019

Today, in Xinjiang, a region in China’s northwest, a new totalitarianism is emerging—one built not on state ownership of enterprises or property but on the state’s intrusive collection and analysis of information about the people there. Xinjiang shows us what a surveillance state looks like under a government that brooks no dissent and seeks to preclude the ability to fight back. And it demonstrates the power of personal information as a tool of social control that is both all-encompassing and highly individualized, using a mix of mechanisms to impose varying levels of supervision and constraint on people depending on their perceived threat to the state.