February 21, 2019

China's Powerful Surveillance State Has Created at Least Four Billionaires

Featuring Elsa B. Kania

Source: Bloomberg

Journalists Blake Schmidt, Venus Feng

Before he became a billionaire, Dai Lin would ride his bike to work, pedaling through the streets of Tianjin to the headquarters of Tiandy Technologies Co., the camera maker he built with support from China’s government.

When Dai started his company in 1994, roadside surveillance cameras were rare in China. Now they’re everywhere -- part of a high-tech surveillance state that’s stoking privacy and human-rights concerns in the world’s most populous nation, raising thorny questions for international investors, and making well-connected entrepreneurs like Dai extremely rich.

The 54-year-old former academic, who now drives a luxury sedan and rewards high-performing employees with BMWs, is the latest of at least four businessmen to amass billion-dollar-plus fortunes from surveillance companies that count China’s government as a major client or investor. Their combined net worth exceeds $12 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Read the full article and more on Bloomberg Quint.


  • Elsa B. Kania

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Technology and National Security Program

    Elsa B. Kania is an Adjunct Senior Fellow with the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. Her research focuses on Chinese military...