POLITICAL SCIENCE

We Have Been Harmonized: Life in China's Surveillance State

Custom House. Sept. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9780063027299. $28.99.
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After decades of reform, and despite Western expectations, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has strengthened its authoritarian control of the country under the leadership of President Xi Jinping. Kai Strittmatter, foreign correspondent for  Süddeutsche Zeitung and author of China A-Z, who has lived in and studied China for many years, explains how this happened. Xi Jinping has brought back ideological campaigns not seen since the days of Mao, has ruthlessly purged potential rivals within the party, and squelched the nascent non-party controlled civil society that had begun to take root in the years prior to his ascent to power. He has done this with a combination of propaganda techniques, fear, bribery, and by harnessing the power of the internet and AI technologies to better control the population. Strittmatter explains how the CPC has plans to expand these operations globally to offer to the world a new type of authoritarianism to compete with the liberal-democratic model promoted by the West. The book concludes with a chapter on what the US and EU can do to deal with the threat this poses.
VERDICT Essential for all China watchers. This absorbing read will appeal to experts and novices alike.

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