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Surveillance with Chinese Characteristics: The Development and Global Adoption of Chinese Policing Technology

October 10, 2019 |  12:15 pm  |  LBJ School of Public Affairs, SRH 3.122

On Thursday, October 10, 2019, the LBJ School of Public Affairs Research Colloquium will host Sheena Greitens, Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri, for a talk on “Surveillance with Chinese Characteristics: The Development and Global Adoption of Chinese Policing Technology.” The Strauss Center and Clements Center are co-hosting this event.

Recent news coverage has highlighted an increasing use of Chinese surveillance and policing technology around the world. What explains the global diffusion of these tools? This project draws on a new dataset constructed from corporate, government, and news reporting to demonstrate that existing analysis has understated the speed and scale of global adoption of Chinese surveillance/policing platforms. It then examines factors that have been proposed to drive the export and adoption of this technology; quantitative tests suggest that strategic importance to China and rates of violent crime are both strong predictors of the adoption of Chinese surveillance/policing technology, but political instability and levels of democracy (or lack thereof) are not. The paper concludes by discussing how a more precise understanding of the spread of Chinese surveillance and policing technology should shape our theoretical understanding of global policy and technological diffusion, as well as policymakers’ approach to a growing global challenge.


Sheena Chestnut Greitens is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Missouri, and co-director of the university’s Institute for Korean Studies. Dr. Greitens is a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for East Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, an adjunct fellow with the Korea Chair at CSIS, and an associate in research at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University. She holds a Ph.D from Harvard University; an M.Phil from Oxford University, where she studied as a Marshall Scholar; and a B.A. from Stanford University. Her work focuses on security, authoritarianism, and the politics and international relations of East Asia. She is currently working on two major projects: one on internal security in contemporary China, and the other on authoritarian diasporas, citizenship, and North Korean migration and resettlement.

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