China’s “surveillance state”: How China uses technology to enable social control

Webinar · 27.09.2023 16:00 - 17:00


China’s “surveillance state”: How China uses technology to enable social control

Over recent months, a series of visits by high-level US officials to China have not fundamentally changed either side’s gloomy strategic assessment of the other. Understandably, their governmental interactions tend to focus on the most visible and contentious security and economic issues—for example, China’s military buildup, the future of Taiwan, Russo-Chinese relations, and multiple trade and investment disputes.

At the same time, a growing non-government community of “China watchers” in and outside the United States has sounded a different alarm. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continues to hone its technological controls over a wide range of domestic affairs—from health monitoring systems developed during the COVID pandemic to an “ecosystem of repressive policies, infrastructure, and technology” aimed especially at the Uyghur population in Xinjiang. These controls not only stifle Chinese society, they have potentially pernicious implications for the international community, as well. As the CCP expands the boundaries of what it considers its “internal affairs,” it can deploy technologies to curb people-to-people exchanges, harass Chinese dissidents and even foreign citizens living abroad, and sow disinformation. This episode of Transatlantic Currents will discuss the origins, evolving strategy and applications of China’s use of advanced technologies for social controls to construct what some experts have termed a “model of digital authoritarianism.”

Transatlantic Currents is a monthly webinar series hosted by FIIA’s Center on US Politics and Power featuring American experts of political science and international relations. The series will cover a wide array of timely topics from foreign policy to domestic issues. The webinars will be hosted by Ambassador (ret.) Deborah McCarthy, Fellow, Harvard University or Non-Resident Fellow Leo Michel, FIIA. 

Please register to the webinar here.


Opening words

Charly Salonius-Pasternak

Leading Researcher, FIIA

Charly Salonius-Pasternak is a Leading Researcher at FIIA and leads the work of the Center on US Politics and Power (CUSPP). His work at FIIA focuses on international security issues, especially Nordic and transatlantic security (including NATO), as well as U.S. foreign and defence policy. Recently he has focused on Finnish-Swedish defence cooperation and the evolution of US and NATO alliance reassurance approaches in light of the changed regional security situation. In 2017, he was a visiting research fellow at the Changing Character of War programme at Pembroke College (Oxford University), where he studied the hybridization of warfare and the impact of the Information Age on the character of war.


Jessica Batke

Senior Editor, ChinaFile

Jessica Batke is Senior Editor for Investigations of ChinaFile, a not-for-profit, online magazine about China published by the Asia Society’s Center on US-China relations. She researches China’s domestic and social affairs, and served as the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research Analyst for nearly eight years prior to joining ChinaFile in 2017. In 2016, she was a Visiting Academic Fellow at MERICS in Berlin. She holds a B.A. in Linguistics from Pitzer College and an M.A. in East Asian Studies from Stanford University.


Leo Michel

Non-Resident Fellow, FIIA

Leo Michel is Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. His previous government positions included: Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies; Director for NATO Policy and Director for Non-Nuclear Arms Control in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Deputy U.S. Representative to the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Consultative Commission as well as other government positions. Michel holds a M.A. from Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies and a B.A. from Princeton University.