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Park City native and WSJ Deputy China Bureau Chief hosting book signing Tuesday

Surveillance State
St. Martin's Press

Park City native and journalist Josh Chin of the Wall Street Journal is holding a book signing Tuesday for his new release, “Surveillance State.”

Chin is the Wall Street Journal’s deputy China bureau chief. His book examines how the Chinese Communist Party is using mass data and artificial intelligence to monitor the country and create a new type of modern authoritarianism.

Chin said it’s a giant social experiment that could reverberate around the world.

“It documents this effort of the Communist Party to use new AI technologies to basically reboot authoritarianism for the 21st century," he said.

"The tools we have today, the surveillance tools they have — just immense potential to totally upend the way that we think about things like security, or convenience, privacy, free will — and the Communist Party is deploying them on a mass scale.”

Chin was born and raised in Park City. He graduated from Park City High School in 1995, and began his journalism career at the Park Record as an editorial assistant.

He joined the Wall Street Journal in 2008, where he started covering Chinese politics.

He was ordered to leave China in February of 2020 along with two of his colleagues after the government and public grew angry with one of the Journal’s opinion pieces. He is now based in Seoul, South Korea.

Chin said his book also goes into details on how China’s surveillance system is not entirely negative for citizens.

“There’s also this element of state surveillance that’s sort of seductive. In wealthy cities, these systems kind of work to make life more convenient and easier. They make traffic run better, they make healthcare more efficient.”

He said the Communist Party’s main goal is to stay in control and to discover problems before they occur.

Chin noted that Chinese surveillance systems have been sold to more than 80 countries across the world. The technology isn’t foreign to the United States.

“Mostly in police departments, they’re using facial recognition, and there’s a big debate now. You have some cities like San Francisco that have banned the use of facial recognition outright. Whereas if you go to New York, the NYPD uses it all of the time. They have cameras everywhere, and they swear by it, they say it helps solve crime.”

He said the biggest challenge of the book was keeping people safe, specifically sources of information.

Chin will be at the Jim Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library on Tuesday, September 27 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. A link to an excerpt from “Surveillance State” can be found here.

Parker Malatesta covers Park City for KPCW. Before coming to NPR, he spent one year as a general assignment reporter for TownLift in Park City. He previously was the news editor at The News Record, the student paper at the University of Cincinnati. He loves running, reading, and urban planning.