US May Ban Chinese Surveillance Camera Companies

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Citing human rights as the primary concern, the US announced that it is considering a ban on surveillance technologies produced by five Chinese companies, adding Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. and Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co., to a blacklist that bars them from US components or software, according to The New York Times and Bloomberg.

Hikvision’s cameras are used the world over, which has raised human rights concerns given the recent revelation that nearly 1.2 million Muslims are being detained in camps in Xinjiang, where Hikvision won five contracts worth billions of yuan last year, according to Forbes.

“We hope the company receives a fair and just treatment,” Hikvision’s secretary of the board, Huang Fanghong, reportedly said in a statement. Dahua representatives had no immediate comment, according to Bloomberg.

Evidence supports the claims that Hikvision is involved in the surveillance efforts conducted in Xinjiang, despite the company asserting that it is nothing more than a product provider.

“Hikvision's own website directly contradicts this claim,” wrote Charles Rollet for IPVM. “In 2017, Hikvision proudly posted that it had won a $79 million safe city project in Xinjiang's capital of Urumqi, stating the project included about 30,000 cameras and data centers.

“Bidding documents also show Hikvision itself directly bid and won wide-ranging surveillance projects in Xinjiang. For a $46m project in Xinjiang's Karakax (or Moyu) county, Hikvision is listed as the sole winner in Chinese bidding documents, which even include its headquarters' address in Hangzhou and state the project is 'BOT,' a scheme in which companies Build, Operate, and then Transfer projects to authorities. Hikvision is also listed as the only winner in bidding documents for a different $53 million surveillance project in Pishan County, which also list its Hangzhou address.”

In addition, Hikvision, Dahua and other companies have reportedly “benefited handsomely from Chinese President Xi Jinping’s unprecedented push to keep tabs on the country’s 1.4 billion people,” according to Bloomberg.

In 2016 IHS Markit reported that China had approximately 176 million video surveillance cameras in use through its public streets, buildings and public spaces, more than three times the 50 million used in America, Bloomberg reported.

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