Fears of China using central bank digital currencies for surveillance, persecution

On September 19, Florida governor and 2024 presidential candidate Ron DeSantis slammed central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), as well as current U.S. leader Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump for championing them. 

“Both the Trump and Biden administrations have pursued a Central Bank Digital Currency. I will not; in fact, I will ban it – just as I did in Florida,” DeSantis wrote on X. 

 “A CBDC is a massive threat to American liberty,” the Florida governor continued. “It would allow the federal government to surveil all your purchases and control your accounts. It would pave the way to a CCP-style social credit system. That’s why when I am president, a CBDC is DOA.” (CCP: Communist Party of China, DOA: Dead on arrival)

Forbes magazine previously reported that both Biden and Trump were in favor of CBDCs. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner reportedly worked behind closed doors to pressure the Treasury Department to evaluate the notion of CBDCs. 

DeSantis signed a law that “says we do not recognize CBDC in the State of Florida, and I think other states are probably going to follow suit.”

“That will jam their ability to do it through executive action,” DeSantis said to former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. 

“They want to get rid of cash, they want no cryptocurrency, and they want this to be the sole form of legal tender. And they have said this publicly at Davos,” DeSantis cautioned. 

In March 2023, a press release from DeSantis’ office expounded on the risks that CBDCs posed to ordinary citizens in America and beyond. 

“Unlike a decentralized digital currency, a CBDC is directly controlled and issued by the government to consumers, giving government bureaucrats the ability to see all consumer activity and the power to cut off access to goods and services for consumers,” his office warned. 

Subsequently, DeSantis alluded to an acknowledgement at a World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting that CBDCs can embolden governments to ban undesirable purchases “like fuel and ammunition.”

The Florida governor highlighted the reality that such government measures could be compared to a social credit system, which would ruin Americans’ freedom.

“So, the minute you give them the power to do this they are going to impose a social credit system on this country. CBDC is a massive threat to American liberty,” he said.

Surveillance and control of population

A former investment banker and official in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Catherine Fitts, also posited that digital currencies, which could technically be employed as gatekeepers to purchasing options or switched off if people do not act according to the diktats of the government, are meant for “control”.

“It’s a financial transaction control grid,” Fitts warned.

“The reality as the financial system gets more controlling and more invasive… central bank digital currencies and vaccine passports or digital IDs are sort of the last shutting of the gate,” Fitts stated.

Likewise, across the Atlantic, Nigel Farage, a former UK politician and current TV host who was recently “de-banked” by the British private bank Coutts, also alerted the public about a looming “cashless society” and social credit system as major British and Australian banks restrict cash withdrawals. 

Farage asserted that “a cashless society” may usher in “a social credit system where only if you obey the prevailing orthodoxy of the day can you take part in life”.

Similarly, during an April 19 debate in Brussels, Dutch member of the European Parliament Marcel de Graaff insisted that the digital euro should not encroach on citizens’ freedoms or lead to the freezing of bank accounts, as was the case in Canada under Justin Trudeau during the 2022 Freedom Convoy protest.

Rather than simply dismissing Fitts, Farage, de Graaff or DeSantis as “right-wing conspiracy theorists”, a June 2023 Insight Report, titled “Reimagining Digital ID”, released by the WEF, echoed these aforementioned concerns. 

According to the report, digital IDs are exclusionary in essence and thus can permit “the identification, surveillance and persecution of individuals or groups”.

The report went on to state: “Perhaps the greatest risks arising from digital ID are exclusion, marginalization and oppression.”

“Several reports have identified a link between a lack of official ID and exclusion from full participation in society. Yet by reifying conditional access, ID is, by its very nature, exclusionary.”

“It is often members of historically marginalized groups who face the harshest forms of exclusion.” 

“In cases where sensitive data is collected, there are also risks of marginalization and oppression, with ID being used to facilitate the identification, surveillance and persecution of individuals or groups,” the report cautioned, reinforcing the links between digital IDs and CBDCs, as it indicated that “some nations are beginning to understand digital ID as a prerequisite to developing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) and other payment innovations.”

Furthermore, the report pointed out that even if digital IDs are not legally compulsory, citizens could still be pressured to adopt them to avoid being excluded from many aspects of society. 

“As an ID system expands, the consequences of not participating in it can become so severe as to make registration effectively unavoidable,” the report noted. 

“When access to a good or service is conditioned upon the possession of a form of ID, and that ID is widespread, individuals may be effectively coerced into obtaining that form of identification, even if there is no legal basis for requiring it.”

The danger of near-total surveillance, domination and control of entire populations, like in communist China, is in fact a considerable risk that skeptics of digital IDs have constantly spoken about. Some observers have even argued that digital IDs, together with CBDCs, could eventually give rise to a totalitarian surveillance state.  

Interestingly, the aforementioned WEF report, while mentioning refugees, women and ethnic minorities as “marginalized groups” of people, omitted the fact that those who refused to take the experimental COVID-19 shots were discriminated against by governments and institutions worldwide. Such exclusions were enabled by vaccine IDs or passports, which, based on another WEF report, “by nature serve as a form of digital identity”.

Skeptics of experimental COVID shots have declared that technology employed to develop digital IDs would not disappear along with the COVID virus. 

Instead, the digital IDs rolled out during the COVID era could readily be used to monitor citizen compliance with a vast assortment of government measures beyond “vaccination status”, punishing the noncompliant by forbidding travel, freezing bank accounts, as well as banning access to public venues. 

World Economic Forum “eager to learn” from Communist China

During the opening speech at the WEF’s June 2023 Summer Davos in Tianjin, China, WEF chairman and founder Klaus Schwab praised the CCP’s second-ranking member, Li Qiang, who also participated in the event.

The WEF founder told Li that “we are eager to learn from your vision on China and the world”.

“Premier Li is the eighth premier of the People’s Republic of China and a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee,” Schwab explained.

Schwab lauded Communist China by declaring that the country “has made remarkable achievements in economy, in social development, in diplomacy, and in many other areas”.

In 2022, Schwab waxed lyrical about Chinese authoritarian leader Xi Jinping during his opening speech at the 2022 Davos Summit.

Under China’s Communist government, which seems to be a role model for Schwab, such suppression and persecution via digital surveillance are already underway. 

A key element of China’s security state is its social credit system that penalizes citizens for what the CCP regards as bad behavior. By relying on mass surveillance software, such as facial recognition camera tools, the CCP has established an “Orwellian system of mass surveillance and predictive policing,” the International Consortium of Journalists has posited. 

For years, the CCP has been persecuting religious and ethnic minorities, including Catholics and the Muslim Uighurs in China. 

Photo credit: iStock/ William_Potter

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