How China Sells Security Video Systems and Trains the World’s Autocrats to Surveil Their People

Is Chinese-style surveillance becoming normalized? A Times investigation found the Chinese surveillance state is spreading past its borders.

Ecuador has about 4,000 national security cameras purchased from China and installed by Chinese enterprises.

Is a security system that is being sold by China as a benefit for security and emergency assistance for citizens, actually functioning as a system to surveil citizens and other potentially nefarious methods of control?

ECU-911 is an immediate and integral response service to a specific emergency. We coordinate the attention of articulated response agencies, for cases of accidents, disasters and emergencies, mobilizing available resources to provide rapid attention to the public.

The National Police, the Armed Forces, the Fire Department, the National Traffic Commission, the Ministry of Public Health, the Ecuadorian Social Security Institute, the Risk Management Secretariat, the Ecuadorian Red Cross and other local agencies in charge of emergency care have joined forces to provide the best care through a unique number: 9-1-1

— ECU-911 (Translated from Spanish)

Former director of army intelligence in Ecuador, Mario Pazmiño, believes ECU-911 is immersed as an important part of the information collection to track or obtain data about people’s movements. He believes there is a direct collaboration between ECU-911, the secretary of intelligence, and also those who surveil and persecute political or social actors.

Pazmiño said when the cameras were installed, spies went home.

Edin Omanovic, State surveillance program lead for Privacy International in the United Kingdom says when China exports their camera and technology to a country like Ecuador, they are actually exporting China’s model of Internet governorship and securing a relationship of China with Ecuador.

Martha Roldós, a former politician turned activist and journalist, says Ecuador gives China oil, and China supposedly gives Ecuador money — usually related to buying equipment and hiring Chinese enterprises.

Much of the technology transition in Ecuador occurred under the leadership of Rafael Correa, former President of Ecuador from 2007 to 2017. Correa, who was widely perceived as an autocrat who took control of the courts and silenced the press, aligned Ecuador with the Latin American pink tide — a turn toward left-wing governments. On July 3, 2018, a judge in Ecuador ordered the arrest of Rafael Correa after he failed to appear in court during a trial regarding the kidnapping of a political opponent. Correa, who lived in Belgium at the time, denied the allegations connected to the kidnapping.

Current president of Ecuador Lenín Moreno has taken the country back in a more democratic direction, but the legacy of Correas’s autocracy lives on, according to The New York Times.

Chinese surveillance systems are increasingly showing up all over the world.

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