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Inside China’s Quest for Social Control, with Josh Chin

The dark side of the digital revolution that is shoring up authoritarianism and quashing basic freedoms in China and beyond

China’s quest for social control is now playing out in ways that should worry us all. That’s the argument of award-winning journalist Josh Chin who came to Intelligence Squared in February 2023 to tell the unsettling stories of the millions of people who live under the constant gaze of the Chinese security forces, armed as they are with increasingly powerful artificial intelligence.

Drawing on his new book Surveillance State, Chin explained how the Chinese government is weaving digital technology into every aspect of daily life from traffic patterns to food safety to emergency response. And he argued that this is a matter of global concern: Western governments encouraged their countries’ companies to sell China the technology it needed to build its surveillance state in the hope that economic and scientific engagement would lead to political reform. Not only did that plan backfire but now China is exporting its system to other countries such as India, Uganda, and Singapore.



Josh Chin

Deputy China bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal

Deputy China bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to his current role, he spent six years as a politics reporter in China covering law, civil society, and government use of technology. He is a recipient of the Dan Bolles Medal and led an investigative team that won the Gerald Loeb Award for international reporting in 2018. He is the co-author, with Liza Lin, of Surveillance State: Inside China’s Quest to Launch a New Era of Social Control  

Katie Stallard

Senior Editor, China and global affairs, at the New Statesman

Senior Editor, China and global affairs, at The New Statesman, and the author of Dancing on Bones: History and Power in China, Russia, and North Korea. She is a non-resident global fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC, and was previously based in Russia and China as a foreign correspondent for Sky News.