UK Minister for Security Tom Tugendhat updated Parliament June 6 about Chinese "overseas police service stations" operating within the United Kingdom. Tugendhat told lawmakers that the UK has ordered China to close any remaining "police stations" on UK soil, calling the stations' existence "unacceptable." Tugendhat said that British authorities received reports from non-governmental organization Safeguard Defenders of these stations in Croydon, Hendon and Glasgow, with allegations of another in Belfast.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on June 2 denounced Macau's decision to expand its national security law, saying the revision "increases the pressure on journalists and further threatens...residents' right to information." The Macau Special Administrative Region's National Security Law, first passed in 2009, defines seven crimes that can result in a maximum sentence of up to 25 years' imprisonment. Under the revised rules, enacted at the end of May, these crimes have been expanded far beyond their previous definitions. For example, "subversion" and "secession" now extend to non-violent acts, while "sedition" includes "acts that incite participation in riots."
Following weeks of sporadic protests against the recurrent draconian COVID-19 lockdowns in China, spontaneous demonstrations broke out in cities across the country Nov. 27. Street demos were reported from Shanghai, Nanjing, Chengdu and Wuhan as well as Beijing. In addition to slogans against the lockdowns and for freedom of speech and assembly, such verboten chants were heard as "Xi Jinping, step down" and "Communist Party, step down." Some called Xi a "dictator" and "traitor." Images have been circulating on social media despite the best efforts of authorities to contain them. Many images show demonstrators holding blank sheets of paper as an ironic protest against censorship.
The Israeli military has installed robotic weapons that can fire tear-gas, stun-grenades and "non-lethal" bullets in two volatile locations on the West Bank. One is atop a turret at al-Aroub refugee camp; the other in the nearby city of Hebron, where soldiers often clash with Palestinian residents. When young protesters pour into the streets hurling rocks and improvised firebombs at Israeli soldiers, the robotic weapons unleash gas and projectiles on them, according to witness accounts. The robo-weapons, produced by Israeli firm Smart Shooter, use artificial intelligence to track targets. Israel says the technology saves lives—both Israeli and Palestinian. But, as YNet states in its Nov. 16 report on the installation, "critics see another step toward a dystopian reality in which Israel fine-tunes its open-ended occupation of the Palestinians while keeping its soldiers out of harm's way."
In Episode 149 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that the UN Human Rights Office determination that China may be guilty of "crimes against humanity" in its mass detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province is dismissed by the tankie-left ANSWER Coalition as "propagandistic." Meanwhile, it falls to Radio Free Asia, media arm of the US State Department, to aggressively cover the very real conditions of forced labor faced by the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples of Xinjiang—and how Western corporations benefit from it. While the Western pseudo-left betrays the Uyghurs, US imperialism exploits their suffering for propaganda against a rising China in the Great Game for the Asia-Pacific region. Figures such as Australia's Kevin Rudd incorrectly portray a "Return of Red China," blaming the PRC's increasingly totalitarian direction on a supposed neo-Marxism. Fortunately, the new anthology Xinjiang Year Zero offers a corrective perspective, placing the industrial-detention complex and techno-security state in the context of global capitalism and settler colonialism.
An Iranian government entity enforcing Islamic rules says the Intelligence Ministry has arrested 300 anti-hijab activist "ringleaders" working "for the enemy." A spokesman of the Enjoining Good & Forbidding Evil Headquarters said Sept. 11 that the activists were arrested in accordance with the new Hijab & Chastity Regulations, which officially extend the mandatory hijab to social media posts. This is to be monitored by the government's facial recognition software that was previously used during the pandemic to track if people were wearing face masks.
China's President Xi Jinping held a video call with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet during her visit to Xinjiang May 25. But Bachelet's fact-finding tour co-incided with new evidence of crimes against the Uyghur people of the province. A hacker broke into a network of computers in Xinjiang's so-called "Vocational Skills Education & Training Centers," releasing a cache of files that document significant abuses. The Xinjiang Police Files, published by the Journal of the European Association for Chinese Studies, include images from inside the camps, as well as thousands of detainee records. Many of these are run by the BBC in a photo essay, "The faces from China's Uyghur detention camps."
Top Chinese technology firms have registered patents for tools apparently designed to detect, track and monitor Uighurs, according to research by the Pennsylvania-based video surveillance watchdog group IPVM. A 2018 patent filed by Shenzhen-based tech giant Huawei with the State Intellectual Property Office (since reorganized as the China National Intellectual Property Administration, CNIPA) lists attributes by which an individual may be targeted, including "race (Han, Uighur)." This comes a month after IPVM released details of a document issued by Huawei and its Beijing-based corporate partner Megvii, "Huawei Video Cloud Solution and Megvii Dynamic Face Recognition Interoperability Test Report," which boasted of a "Uighur alarm" among the "basic functions of Megvii's facial recognition system."