A wanted man was arrested in China after facial recognition technology spotted him in a crowd of 50,000 at a pop concert. The 31-year-old man, named only as Ao, was attending a concert by Hong Kong pop star Jacky Cheung last week in Jiangxi province, when he was caught on the facial recognition technology. The man, who is wanted for unspecified economic crimes, was with his wife at the time and had driven 56 miles from Zhangshu to Nanchang to see the Hong Kong pop star. Ao told officers he felt safe among such a huge crowd and had no idea the police had the technology to catch him in a public event.

Police officer Li Jin said: ‘Ao was suspected to be involved in an economic crime and was listed on a national online system, he was very shocked and had a blank face when we caught him.’ The Ministry of Public Security began building a giant facial recognition database in 2015 which can identify any citizen within seconds. Facial-recognition systems in China are becoming part of daily life with people using it for identification in restaurants and airports.

Wanted man caught in crowd of 50,000 people thanks to facial recognition camera

The CCTV and facial recognition control room in Nanchang

However, facial recognition software is the the tip of a state-surveillance iceberg with databases on credit, criminal and medical records as well as consumer purchases logs and even social media comments all being cross-referenced at any time. The ‘Police Cloud’ system aims to clampdown on crimes and dissident behaviour across the Chinese population and Communist party bosses even hope to predict crimes and stop them before they happen.