Big Brother on a small screen — Xinjiang residents forced to install surveillance app – China’s latest political and current affairs news


A summary of the top news in Chinese politics and current affairs for July 21, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

Reports have surfaced that residents in Urumqi, the capital of western Xinjiang Province, are being coerced to install an app called Jingwang (净网, “clean internet”) on their cell phones. Radio Free Asia (RFA) broke the news (in Chinese) on July 13 that the district government had sent a mobile notification instructing residents to install the app on July 10 to prevent access to “terrorist information.”

But soon after installing the software, 10 Kazakh women found themselves arrested for messages sent amongst themselves on a private WeChat group chat. A fellow Kazakh man told RFA that the “normal” women, who “have nothing to do with religion or politics,” were grabbed by the authorities a day after installing the application. The reporter at RFA noted that many Kazakh people, having recently been moved off of their land for development projects, had become aggrieved and began talking of immigrating to Kazakhstan.

Global Voices reported on July 19 that police were spot-checking residents to ensure they had downloaded the software.

China Digital Times has a roundup of this and other recent stories of heavy digital surveillance and police control in China’s Muslim-populated western state. This includes a story from the New York Times’s Edward Wong, who describes (paywall) in great detail — with multimedia accompaniment — what it feels like to look over your shoulder in Xinjiang and see plainclothes police at every turn.