Episode 38: How China perfected the police state, with Geoffrey Cain
Portrait courtesy of Geoffrey Cain. Photo by Isabelle Roughol. 

Episode 38: How China perfected the police state, with Geoffrey Cain

The Uyghurs’ real-life dystopia offers a glimpse of a political and technological future George Orwell could only imagine.

Isabelle Roughol
Isabelle Roughol

It’s got the Big Brother and Newspeak of 1984, the predictive policing of Minority Report, the monitoring and neighbourly delation of the Stasi and the cultural erasure of the Khmer Rouge – and concentration camps. In Xinjiang, the Chinese Communist Party may well have created the perfect police state. Journalist Geoffrey Cain investigates the Uyghur genocide and reveals what happens in the real world when you combine totalitarian ideology with artificial intelligence.

Show notes
00:17 Intro
02:26 A day in the life of a Uyghur woman
07:28 Every totalitarian dystopia wrapped into one
10:16 A 21st-century genocide
12:32 The technology doesn't even need to be that good
15:48 Why China went after the Uyghurs
18:06 Membership ad
19:47 How the return of the Taliban might impact the Uyghurs
21:45 Dystopia in the dark
24:34 How China exports its surveillance
27:51 How Western corporations and economies got trapped
30:44 The New Cold War
32:46 The death of techno utopianism
35:23 First let's fix the financial system
38:35 Outro

📚The Perfect Police State, by Geoffrey Cain. Public Affairs. 2021. Buy it here.
Samsung Rising, by Geoffrey Cain. Penguin Random House. 2020. Buy it here.
🐦 @geoffrey_cain and @iroughol

Stories referenced
🇦🇺 Facebook’s battle with Australia
🇺🇸 Amazon and the NSA
🇨🇳 Xinjiang’s cotton and Western brands
💻 Apple’s terminated supplier


Isabelle Roughol

Journalist. Founder & host of Borderline. Former international editor of LinkedIn, foreign editor at Le Figaro, reporter at The Cambodia Daily. Global soul, messy accent.


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