Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Oct., 2016. Photo: AP/Ng Han Guan.
ike the fairytale of Aladdin and his genie in a lamp, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte may have what comes close to a true-to-life genie in Chinese President Xi Jin Ping.
Over the past 3 decades China has veered away from democratic reforms and appears headed towards becoming a repressive surveillance state. Under President Xi, the Chinese have made significant strides in artificial intelligence (A.I.) as well as facial recognition technologies.
China plans to be the world leader in A.I. by 2025. And even today, improved digital biometric imaging, coupled with ubiquitous CCTV cameras found all over China, allow authorities to closely monitor its citizens. And all these technologies will only improve over time.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, “China is exporting this model by providing hardware and software to other countries. Features of the surveillance state hold great appeal for existing or nascent authoritarian regimes wishing to control their subjects more thoroughly.”
The WSJ article goes on to note that China’s hacking of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management several years back allowed it to acquire “security-clearance materials of more than 20 million U.S. government employees and contractors.” Well, what’s to stop China from hacking into similar Philippine systems–if they haven’t done so already. With their state-of-the-art surveillance methods, coupled with A.I. algorithms, they can know about everyone, and everything that goes on in the Philippines. Xi will then be able to warn Duterte of any perceived rumblings, be it from the citizenry, or the military well before even local authorities find out. And Xi will become Duterte’s genie. With his magic bag of high-tech tricks, Duterte will be forever in Xi’s debt.
And implicit in that arrangement will be Duterte’s realization that he will need Xi’s “magical powers” protecting him while in Malacaang. This portends a bleak future for the Philippines, as Duterte will be forced to do Xi’s bidding to remain in power. </span> Published 5/20/2018