A social media post, “Leave Your Clothes On; Secret Camera by the Bed!”, has gone viral in China. It describes the case of Ms. Zhang Pei from Beijing, who stayed in a hotel with her boyfriend in February 2018. Hidden cameras had filmed the couple and the footage was posted onto a porn website without their knowledge. After discovering what had happened, the couple’s relationship ended, and Ms. Zhang Pei tried to commit suicide three times within 10 months. There have been countless other victims — the majority being females.
One couple who’d stayed in a 5-star accommodation during the New Year holidays in 2017 say they had been shocked to discover three hidden cameras in a room of 66 square meters. Another couple who’d been renting their apartment for six months say they had accidentally found a hidden camera in their bedroom in October 2018. They had been on a live broadcast, without their knowledge.
The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) official media posted on social media site Weibo warning people to be on the lookout for hidden cameras and electronic devices. According to the article, secret cameras and wire-tapping devices are hard to detect and can be found in any number of places — shops, bus stations, rented accommodations, and hotels being the most common. Civilians and high-ranking officials have equally been targeted.
In 2012, Wang Lijun, who was Head of Chungching Police of Sichuan Province at the time, had rushed into the American Consulate in Chengdu with evidence that Bo Xilai, once the Minister of Commerce and Governor of Sichuan Province, had been wiretapping top-level officials, such as Hu Jintao — leader of China from 2002 to 2012. According to Wang Lijun, Bo Xilai had been secretly planning to conduct a coup. In 2013, Liang Ke, Head of Beijing’s police department, had disclosed upon being arrested that he had received an order to wiretap top-level officials, such as Xi Jinping and Lee Keqiang. In 2015, when Ma Jian, Deputy Head of the Public Security Ministry was arrested, it was revealed that he had masterminded the recording of Beijing Deputy Mayor Liu Zihhua’s sexual life and had also been wiretapping top-level officials, such as Xi Jinping.
Such cases highlight, yet again, the severity of corruption and conflicts within the CCP, as well as the frequent use of secret recording devices within political circles. However, due to widespread communist ideologies, strict CCP control, and brainwashing in China, public opinion is generally accepting of such hidden devices being used. Rather than viewing such acts as criminal offenses or a violation of privacy, people have been led to accept them as part of modern culture — an industry that is not only profitable, but that satisfies people’s desire to peek into other’s lives.
The CCP has begun installing countless cameras in China’s large cities, with a goal of achieving total coverage by 2020. The CCP claims that the cameras are being set up for public safety, and are giving such projects names like Skynet, Shining, and Safe City. However, skeptics believe the cameras are but a new way of monitoring and controlling the public, yet another way to deprive the public of privacy and independence. With the use of hidden devices being rampant in the government, it’s no wonder that such immoral behavior and pornography has spread throughout society — it is now truly a problem that has gotten out of hand.
Translated by Audrey and edited by Emiko Kingswell