We Have Been Harmonized

We Have Been Harmonized

Life in China's Surveillance State

Large Print - 2020
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Named a Notable Work of Nonfiction of 2020 by the Washington Post

As heard on NPR's Fresh Air, We Have Been Harmonized, by award-winning correspondent Kai Strittmatter, offers a groundbreaking look, based on decades of research, at how China created the most terrifying surveillance state in history.

China's new drive for repression is being underpinned by unpre­cedented advances in technology: facial and voice recognition, GPS tracking, supercomputer databases, intercepted cell phone conver­sations, the monitoring of app use, and millions of high-resolution security cameras make it nearly impossible for a Chinese citizen to hide anything from authorities. Commercial transactions, including food deliveries and online purchases, are fed into vast databases, along with everything from biometric information to social media activities to methods of birth control. Cameras (so advanced that they can locate a single person within a stadium crowd of 60,000) scan for faces and walking patterns to track each individual's move­ment. In some schools, children's facial expressions are monitored to make sure they are paying attention at the right times. In a new Social Credit System, each citizen is given a score for good behavior; for those who rate poorly, punishments include being banned from flying or taking high-speed trains, exclusion from certain jobs, and preventing their children from attending better schools. And it gets worse: advanced surveillance has led to the imprisonment of more than a million Chinese citizens in western China alone, many held in draconian "reeducation" camps.

This digital totalitarianism has been made possible not only with the help of Chinese private tech companies, but the complic­ity of Western governments and corporations eager to gain access to China's huge market. And while governments debate trade wars and tariffs, the Chinese Communist Party and its local partners are aggressively stepping up their efforts to export their surveillance technology abroad--including to the United States.

We Have Been Harmonized is a terrifying portrait of life under unprecedented government surveillance--and a dire warning about what could happen anywhere under the pretense of national security.

"Terrifying. ... A warning call." --The Sunday Times (UK), a "Best Book of the Year so Far"

Publisher: New York :, Harper Large Print, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers,, 2020, ©2020.
Edition: Large print edition.
ISBN: 9780063028616
Branch Call Number: LPE 323. 4482 STR
Characteristics: vii, 501 pages ; 23 cm

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JCLLizW Dec 22, 2020

Strittmatter shows how well-known traits of authoritarian regimes are being applied in Xi Jinping’s China, making frequent George Orwell and Aldous Huxley references along the way. It's a bit terrifying to read, but important and well-written! He covers the Chinese Communist Party's methods of censorship and the content they typically censor, but the core of the book is about the use of technology to track Chinese citizens and discourage any form of dissent. Strittmatter shows that the prison sentences and disappearances of today may not be necessary in the future: with cameras everywhere, the world's most advanced AI, and the Party's uninhibited access to citizen information, China may be able to force its citizens to self-censor. He assumes the reader has some basic knowledge of modern Chinese history; if you're not familiar, you might want to brush up on Mao Zedong, the Tiananmen Square protests, and Xi Jinping before reading this.

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