China Expands Student Spying Network, Says CIA

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After Tiananmen, the Communist Party in China unveiled the Student Information System, whose nominal goals were to improve the quality of college and university teaching and increase student involvement in education. “In practice, however, the SIS’s principal objective is to monitor and control teachers and students,” says a new CIA report highlighted by Steve Aftergood on his Secrecy blog at FAS.

Now SIS is expanding, says the report, which Aftergood obtained and which was drawn from open source materials and is unclassified. Initially the SIS was implemented only at universities that had played roles in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. In the last ten years it has expanded to provincial campuses, lower tier universities, technical schools and middle and high schools, the report claims.

The report lists a variety of organizations that all are part of the system (see below), and details some of its Orwellian elements. “Students have had their scholarships revoked and their academic records penalized because of information provided by student informants that is sometimes highly subjective, such as facial expressions,” says the report. The reports authors liken such denunciations to Orwell’s “facecrimes” in his novel 1984.

After the jump, a list of what the report says are different versions of the system:

From the CIA report on SIS, via Steve Aftergood:

Many Names, Same Informant System (U)

Officials at China’s colleges and universities have tailored the SIS to fit their own unique needs, and

over time the student informant system has been implemented under a variety of names, including:

• student teaching information system (学生教学信息员制度)

• system for teaching information staff (教学信息员制度)

• student information system (学生信息员制度)

• teaching quality control assistant system (教学质量信息员制度)

• student information coordinator system (学生信息员制度)

• system of teaching informants (教学信息员制度)

• student teaching messenger system (学生教学信息员制度)

• student teaching monitor system (学生教学督导信息员制度)(U//FOUO)

In Chinese, these various names of the Student Informant System are usually abbreviated as

xuesheng xinxi yuan zhidu (学生信息员制度). Student informants are called xuesheng xinxi yuan

(学生信息员). (U//FOUO)