China using ‘unnerving’ tactic of raiding protesters homes

China using ‘unnerving’ tactic against protesters says Fox

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China is using state of the art surveillance to “photograph protesters using an identification verification method” and later arrest them after they have returned to their homes. After a weekend of mass protests, the number of Chinese citizens on the streets appears to have waned, and Robert Fox, defence editor of the Evening Standard, claimed the authorities had successfully resorted to arresting the rebels away from the cameras. He described the tactic as “sophisticated and unnerving” as it leaves little by way of evidence. 

Mr Fox said: “This is the way of things now. We know that the Chinese have excellent surveillance. 

“We believe they actually taken down some intelligence networks from western agencies like the CIA by interrupting and hacking all conversations. 

“It looks as if the encryption is pretty thin. And as we have discovered this time, they are not bothering so much to round up demonstrators at the time but to photograph them and then using an identification verification method, which is very familiar to the FBI, a few hours or a day later, there is a knock on the door. 

“From there, [the protesters] are being taken in. It is very sophisticated. It is also quite unnerving.”

Chinese universities sent students home and police fanned out in Beijing and Shanghai to prevent more protests on Tuesday after crowds angered by severe antivirus restrictions called for leader Xi Jinping to resign in the biggest show of public dissent in decades.

Authorities have eased some controls after demonstrations in at least eight mainland cities and Hong Kong, but they maintained they would stick to a “zero-COVID” strategy that has confined millions of people to their homes for months at a time. Security forces have detained an unknown number of people and stepped up surveillance.

With police out in force, there was no word of protests on Tuesday in Beijing, Shanghai or other major mainland cities that saw crowds rally over the weekend. 

Those were the most widespread protests since the army crushed the 1989 student-led Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement.

The apparent dissolution of the protests could have been achieved through authorities using furtive means of discouraging dissent. 

Beijing’s Tsinghua University, where students rallied over the weekend, and other schools in the capital and the southern province of Guangdong sent students home. The schools said they were being protected from COVID-19, but dispersing them to far-flung hometowns also reduces the likelihood of more demonstrations. Chinese leaders are wary of universities, which have been hotbeds of activism, including the Tiananmen protests.

On Sunday, Tsinghua students were told they could go home early for the semester. The school, which is Xi’s alma mater, arranged buses to take them to the train station or airport.

Beijing Forestry University also said it would arrange for students to return home. It said its faculty and students all tested negative for the virus. Universities said classes and final exams would be conducted online.

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Authorities hope to “defuse the situation” by clearing out campuses, said Dali Yang, an expert on Chinese politics at the University of Chicago.

Police also appeared to be trying to keep their crackdown out of sight, possibly to avoid drawing attention to the scale of the protests or encouraging others. Videos and posts on Chinese social media about protests were deleted by the ruling party’s vast online censorship apparatus.

There were no announcements about detentions, though reporters saw protesters taken away by police and social media posts said people were in custody or missing. Police warned some detained protesters against demonstrating again.

Some people were also swept up in police raids after demonstrations ended. 

One person who lived near the site of a protest in Shanghai was detained Sunday and held until Tuesday morning, according to two friends who insisted on anonymity for fear of retribution from authorities.

In Beijing, police on Monday visited a resident who attended a protest the previous night, according to a friend who refused to be identified for fear of retaliation. He said the police questioned the resident and warned him not to go to more protests.

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