From our Asia Desk - China has just opened a new airport near Beijing equipped with facial-recognition systems that let a passenger check in, clear security, and board an aircraft using only their face for identification. The 5G backbone for this airport system has been built by Huawei Technologies, while the facial-recognition software has been developed by the Chinese companies SenseTime and Yitu Technologies.
This airport technology is a significant benchmark in the Chinese development of artificial intelligence (AI) and its practical application in China. Other examples of this trend include the adoption of facial-recognition systems for retail shopping payments, monitoring high school and university attendance, and as tickets on trains and subways. The boom in fielding these technologies has made several Chinese tech firms rich, with the related companies SenseTime, Yitu, CloudWalk, Megvii, and HikVision all valued at more than $1 billion each.
While these are tech-driven improvements to quality of life for Chinese citizens, these same technologies are being built into a massive national surveillance system that includes 200 million surveillance cameras and AI-based facial-recognition systems that can track the movements and behavior of individuals. It is being used to monitor traffic violations and search for wanted criminals, but it is also a potential tool for total population control as Xi Jinping promotes socialist values and stamps out any dissent. Strangely, there is little public debate in China about the threat to personal freedoms that this system represents, possibly reflecting the fact that the Chinese have never enjoyed a system that valued individual liberty.
Full report link: IR-19-276-001_CN Facial Recognition ance_FINAL.pdf