Nearly 700 Americans were flagged in a secret Chinese security database during their visits to China’s Shanghai, according to a leaked database seen by The Epoch Times.
The list of 697 American citizens, some of them as young as three years old, make up part of a 1.1 million record dataset involving more than 5,000 foreign citizens. The details recorded include their full names, birth data, and passport numbers, captured as the individuals were entering and leaving Shanghai from 2018 to 2020.
Shanghai’s Public Security Bureau, which stored the information on its server, answers to the central government’s top intelligence agency, the Ministry of State Security.
Among the people on the watchlist were also 172 Canadians, 161 Australians, and hundreds of travelers from Asian countries such as Japan and Taiwan. Three of the people tracked also hold diplomatic passports.
While the Shanghai records are far from exhaustive, it is a “small, but highly detailed window into the surveillance state of China,” said Robert Potter and David Robinson of Internet 2.0, an Australia-based cybersecurity firm that analyzed the data.
A subset of the data leak includes a blacklist containing 10,000 people tagged as “suspected terrorists,” composed of 93 percent Uyghurs. Thousands of them got flagged for accessing the internet.
Hundreds of individuals also came on the watchlist for having access to dangerous chemicals, drugs, or materials for making explosives. Nearly a half of them were employees working for foreign firms or joint ventures, among them U.S. manufacturing giant 3M, Kansas-based chemical firm Invista, and Japanese carmaker Mitsubishi.
Records from one district called Jinshan around Shanghai’s harbor also revealed how officials deployed surveillance cameras to track individuals in real time, recording their car registration details and movements when possible.
Internet 2.0 noted how the local level data were merged into a single system to further the surveillance state.
“This system is demonstrative of how China broadly seeks to control all data points within the enforcement of law and political control,” the company said, noting that the tools it mobilizes are “significantly more advanced in both scope and scale than those operated in democratic states.”
Michael Shoebridge, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s defense director, previously told The Epoch Times that the mass of information from the leak shows the leverage that Beijing has in targeting anyone who runs afoul of the regime.
“Despite enormous investments in cybersecurity, online monitoring, surveillance, and a deeply controlling central authority,” he said, “this is a large vulnerability in the Party’s operating model that seems to be growing, not contracting.”
The State Department did not respond to a request for comment.