China wants residents in a troubled part of the country to have GPS tracking installed in their cars so their movements can be monitored 24/7.
The measure has been ordered by Chinese security officials to be implemented on the Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, following a spate of deadly, violent crime in the area.
According to a statement by the Bayingolin government via a local site, the mandatory order to install GPS trackers is intended to help “ensure social security and safety and promote social stability and harmony”.
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In recent weeks, two deadly attacks have been reported where more than a dozen people were killed in Xinjiang. The government has so far sent in thousands of armed troops, staging anti-terror marches in three violence-stricken cities in the prefecture.
Local authorities have pinned the blame on Islamic extremists and separatist groups, The Guardian reports.
Some observers, however, also point out that it may be caused by an ethnic divide between Han Chinese migrants and the Uyghur minority.
“There is a severe threat from international terrorism, and cars have been used as a key means of transport for terrorists as well as constantly serving as weapons. It is, therefore, necessary to monitor and track all vehicles in the prefecture,” an earlier announcement from the Bayingolin government read.
All private and government vehicles, including heavy construction vehicles, will have to comply by having the China-made Beidou satellite navigation system installed. The order affects hundreds of thousands of vehicles in the region.
Refusal to install GPS tracking would prevent the car owners from filling their fuel tanks at gas stations.