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China not a dark totalitarian country as western media describes: Ai Weiwei

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Beijing: China is not a dark totalitarian country, a state-run daily said Saturday, stressing that “many elements from the developed world are taking root” in the nation.

“China is not the dark totalitarian country that some in the West described it as. Many elements from the developed world are taking root in China,” an editorial in the Global Times said.

The country is also facing new problems, it said, adding: “The theory that all problems will be resolved once China adopts Western systems does not make sense.”

The editorial appeared following Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s visit to Germany where he has “softened his tone towards the Chinese authorities”.

“After regaining his passport from authorities in July, Ai left for Germany.

“Ai said he was allowed to travel again with almost no restrictions, and he could also go back to China, and that the government told him he is a free person. Ai also said that he would not just criticize the government, but should also offer solutions.”

The Voice of America said Ai’s words have drawn criticism from Chinese dissidents, who referred to this as the “collapse of an idol”.

The editorial said that for a long time, Ai has been labeled by Western media as a maverick and a flag bearer who fights against the existing political system. “Ai has been benefiting from these titles, but in the meantime, he has also been hijacked by them.”

This time “Ai seemed to have broken out of the label of his role. He opened his heart to the media. It has surprised many, because he did not complain a lot about what he has ‘suffered’ in China, as the Western media expected”.

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Shanghai Airport Gets Check-In With Facial Recognition Machines

Increased convenience may come at a cost in a country with few rules on how the government can use biometric data.

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Shanghai,
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection facial recognition device is ready to scan another passenger at a United Airlines gate. VOA

It’s now possible to check in automatically at Shanghai Hongqiao airport using facial recognition technology, part of an ambitious rollout of facial recognition systems in China that has raised privacy concerns as Beijing pushes to become a global leader in the field.

Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport unveiled self-service kiosks for flight and baggage check-in, security clearance and boarding powered by facial recognition technology, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Similar efforts are under way at airports in Beijing and Nanyang city, in central China’s Henan province.

Shanghai,
Face recognition tool was first launched in 2012

Many airports in China already use facial recognition to help speed security checks, but Shanghai’s system, which debuted Monday, is being billed as the first to be fully automated.

“It is the first time in China to achieve self-service for the whole check-in process,” said Zhang Zheng, general manager of the ground services department for Spring Airlines, the first airline to adopt the system at Hongqiao airport. Currently, only Chinese identity card holders can use the technology.

Spring Airlines, Shanghai said Tuesday that passengers had embraced automated check-in, with 87 percent of 5,017 people who took Spring flights on Monday using the self-service kiosks, which can cut down check-in times to less than a minute and a half.

Shanghai,
Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of the Boston-based artificial intelligence firm Affectiva, demonstrates the company’s facial recognition technology, in Boston, April 23, 2018. VOA

Across greater China, facial recognition is finding its way into daily life. Mainland police have used facial recognition systems to identify people of interest in crowds and nab jaywalkers, and are working to develop an integrated national system of surveillance camera data.

Chinese media are filled with reports of ever-expanding applications: A KFC outlet in Hangzhou, near Shanghai, where it’s possible to pay using facial recognition technology; a school that uses facial recognition cameras to monitor students’ reactions in class; and hundreds of ATMs in Macau equipped with facial recognition devices to curb money laundering.

Also Read: Facial Recognition Technology Catches A Person With Fake Passpost At The US Airport 

But increased convenience may come at a cost in a country with few rules on how the government can use biometric data.

“Authorities are using biometric and artificial intelligence to record and track people for social control purposes,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch. “We are concerned about the increasing integration and use of facial recognition technologies throughout the country because it provides more and more data points for the authorities to track people.” (VOA)