Shenzhen: China’s emerging panopticon … and it’s coming here soon

Situated immediately north of Hong Kong, Shenzhen is a city that has gone from nought to 12 million in less than 30 years. Naomi Klein describes the emerging megacity in Rolling Stone as a large industrial sprawl with a glittering and increasingly glamourous core:

“Newer neighborhoods like Keji Yuan are packed with ostentatiously modern corporate campuses and decadent shopping malls. Rem Koolhaas, Prada’s favorite architect, is building a stock exchange in Shenzhen that looks like it floats … a still-under-construction superlight subway will soon connect it all at high speed; every car has multiple TV screens broadcasting over a Wi-Fi network. At night, the entire city lights up like a pimped-out Hummer, with each five-star hotel and office tower competing over who can put on the best light show.”

But there is, she says, a darker flip side to Shenzhen:

“Over the past two years, some 200,000 surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the city. Many are in public spaces, disguised as lampposts. The closed-circuit TV cameras will soon be connected to a single, nationwide network, an all-seeing system that will be capable of tracking and identifying anyone who comes within its range”

She ends with the note that the Western companies who have helped install the Chinese “Golden Shield” are now looking for new markets, somewhat closer to home.