Strauss Center News

Updates from the Strauss Center and our affiliated distinguished scholars and fellows


Greitens Publishes an Essay in the Wilson China Fellowship Report

May 25, 2021 |

Sheena Chestnut Greitens, Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the LBJ School and Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar, recently published an essay titled “The Global Impact of China’s Surveillance Technology: Issues for U.S. Policy.” In this essay, Greitens explores the international consequences of China’s exportation of its surveillance technologies, providing eight key recommendations for U.S. policymakers. Greitens first provides an overview of the domestic development of China’s surveillance infrastructure, highlighting President Xi Jinping’s rollout of a “holistic” national security agenda. She highlights relevant aspects of national security directives, including a 2015 directive that calls for the establishment of a “networked video surveillance and community grid management.” This system of grids enables the collection and integration of disparate sources of data which strengthens social control efforts. Greitens then provides an overview of the global impact of China’s surveillance technology, noting that this technology has been exported to at least eighty countries. She provides two case studies to illustrate the impact of this technology in two recipient countries: Kenya and Myanmar. Greitens then moves to discuss the policy implications, beginning by noting the three main reasons this trend in concerning from a U.S. policy perspective. The first is that these technologies have been used to violate human rights, which is illustrated in the two case studies. The second is that they pose threats to data security and data privacy. Third, these technologies—and surveillance technology in particular—may impact U.S.-China strategic and security competition. Greitens concludes by providing details on each of her eight recommendations for U.S. policymakers. Read the full essay here.