China's mass surveillance network, the largest in the world, is expanding into rural regions. The project uses artificial intelligence, facial recognition and big data to help reduce crime rates in the countryside, which is short of security forces.
A fight was brewing in the streets of Jiantai village, Shifang, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, the result of financial disputes between villagers. Just as a young man was about to pull a knife, the police promptly arrived, stopping what could have become a blood bath.
The suspects did not know that their street fight was being watched at home and on phones by their fellow villagers, whose television sets and mobiles were connected to surveillance cameras placed around the rural neighborhood through streaming boxes and apps. A villager who had witnessed the entire incident on his TV reported it to the police simply by pressing a button on his remote control.
This case, covered by Xinhua in late 2016, is an example of the capability of China's new mass surveillance network in rural areas, which could eventually turn every television set and mobile phone in the countryside into a security monitoring terminal.