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AI-powered CCTV cameras in China catch another wanted fugitive

Authorities caught a guy as he was leaving a concert. At least he got to listen to it first.

Jennifer Bisset
Jennifer Bisset
Jennifer Bisset Former Senior Editor / Culture
Jennifer Bisset was a senior editor for CNET. She covered film and TV news and reviews. The movie that inspired her to want a career in film is Lost in Translation. She won Best New Journalist in 2019 at the Australian IT Journalism Awards.
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Jennifer Bisset
2 min read
1st Digital China Summit
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Unlike in some countries, China's facial recognition tech is working, and it's Black Mirror scary for its citizens.

Facial recognition cameras at a music concert over the weekend in Zhejiang province, eastern China, identified a "wanted" man, known as "Yu", Qianjiang Evening News reported.

Chinese authorities had been investigating Yu since 2015 over a dispute involving potatoes. He was accused of not paying their 110,000 yuan ($17,200) worth and fled Shandong province, about 700 kilometers (435 miles) north of Zhejiang.

Police arrested Yu as he was leaving Jiaxing Sports Stadium, where popular Hong Kong singer Jackie Cheung had been performing.

"A few minutes after he passed through the security checkpoint, our system issued a warning that he was a wanted person," Shen Yueguang, an official from the Nanhu District Public Security Bureau, was quoted as saying. 

This is the third time China's facial recognition tech has led to arrests of wanted fugitives at a Jackie Cheung concert in the last two months. This was not lost on users of Weibo, China's Twitter equivalent.


Translation: "The guys at public security are calling Jackie Cheung 'the best police assistant'."

Screenshot by Zoey Cheng/CNET

China's law enforcement use AI-powered CCTV cameras, armed with facial recognition tech, to locate people of interest. China's CCTV surveillance network, which by 2020 will be made up of over 600 million AI-powered CCTV cameras, is currently able to track citizens, identify what car they drive and even who their friends are, a December BBC report showed.

Aside from policing its citizens out in the public, China's facial recognition tech is going Big Brother inside schools. In one classroom at Hangzhou Number 11 High School in eastern China, three cameras sit above the blackboard and monitor pupils' facial expressions. That information is fed into a computer which will assess the students' emotions and attentiveness. The rest of the school will reportedly go under these "smart eyes" by August.

It's part of China's nationwide focus on monitoring its citizens with tech such as facial recognition, artificial intelligence, smart glasses and more. Ultimately the country aims to give all of its 1.4 billion citizens a personal score by 2020 based on how they behave.

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