China Enacting a High-Tech Plan to Track People

August 12, 2007 By KEITH BRADSHER, nytimes.com

…Starting this month in a port neighborhood and then spreading across Shenzhen, a city of 12.4 million people, residency cards fitted with powerful computer chips programmed by the same company will be issued to most citizens.

Data on the chip will include not just the citizen’s name and address but also work history, educational background, religion, ethnicity, police record, medical insurance status and landlord’s phone number. Even personal reproductive history will be included, for enforcement of China’s controversial “one child” policy. Plans are being studied to add credit histories, subway travel payments and small purchases charged to the card.

…The Chinese government has ordered all large cities to apply technology to police work and to issue high-tech residency cards to 150 million people who have moved to a city but not yet acquired permanent residency.

…“If they do not get the permanent card, they cannot live here, they cannot get government benefits, and that is a way for the government to control the population in the future,” said Michael Lin, the vice president for investor relations at China Public Security Technology, the company providing the technology.