China reverts to ‘grid management’ to monitor citizens’ lives

China reverts to ‘grid management’ to monitor citizens’ lives, by Lucy Hornby. China is rolling out a nationwide system of social control known as “grid management” in a revival of state presence in residential life that had receded since the mid-1990s as society liberalized and private housing became more common.

[S]mall police booths and networks of citizens have been set up block by block to reduce neighbourhood disputes, enforce sanitation, reduce crime — and keep an eye on anyone deemed a troublemaker. … The grid management system is an attempt by the authorities to re-establish its control over individuals … If a grid administrator is responsible for 200 families, he can roughly remember who is in his grid in one month’s time and grasp the basic information of each family in about three months’ time. In six months’ time, he can count every member of those families.

China’s economic miracle is hitting speed bumps due to to massive debts, most of which will never be meaningfully repaid, so the Communist Party is presumably preparing for unrest.