President Trump is considering restricting Hikvision, a Chinese owned company and the largest manufacturer of video-surveillance products, from purchasing American technology.
Hikvision products allow clients, including the Chinese government, to track people across the country by facial features and body characteristics. Complex surveillance systems powered by Hikvision are being used to find and monitor Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic group in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. Chinese officials have detained over 2 million Muslims in camps, where prisoners and are forced to renounce Islam and learn Mandarin. China’s high-tech human rights infringement may not be limited to its own citizens. The Xi regime is now exporting its surveillance technologies across the globe to authoritarian regimes including Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and the United Arab Emirates.
President Trump views China as a geopolitical and economic threat. The White House is concerned that Chinese companies will use their networks across the globe to access and steal data. The administration has also backlisted Huawei, another Chinese technology company perceived by U.S. government officials as a threat to national security.
Specific concerns regard the use of Hikvision’s advanced technology to spy on governments, businesses, and individuals.
Hikvision currently has surveillance cameras throughout much of America, including airports, schools, government offices and Army bases. Hypothetically, if the United States and China were at war one day, Beijing would have a digital window, affording a major advantage to the PLA.
Blacklisting Hikvision may also be part of the President’s trade-war strategy. China’s technology industry would take a hit as up to 22 percent of Hikvision’s revenue would be put at risk. The move to blacklist Hikvision also aligns with the Trump administration’s desire to curb China’s intellectual property theft. New technology such as Hikvision’s surveillance system blurs the line between military and commercial use, making it difficult to decipher how China intends to use its high-tech systems. By blacklisting the company, the threat of the Xi regime’s capability to steal U.S. classified information and intellectual property would be reduced.
If Hikvision is placed on a blacklist, it will no longer have access to U.S. technology products used to operate its systems. By cutting off Hikvision’s tech supply, the company would not have the adequate means to produce and place its surveillance systems in global networks.