Activists say China’s new Silk Road equips autocrats with spy tech

China is helping dozens of nations to roll out digital surveillance systems which can be used to target protest and dissent.

The drones were hard to avoid: they buzzed low over the crowd of protesters holding banners and shouting slogans outside the NagaWorld casino in the Cambodian city of Phnom Penh, then hovered above each of the speakers as they called for justice.

As hundreds of workers went on strike outside the glass and chrome towers of the firm’s hotel and casino complex, demanding the reinstatement of nearly 400 employees who were laid off last year, armed riot police and surveillance cameras kept watch.

“We knew we were being recorded, but we couldn’t do anything, so we would wave at the drones,” said Chhim Sithar, 34, a union leader who was arrested at the January protest along with more than a dozen others, and held in jail for nine weeks.

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