US may blacklist China's Hikvision over Uighur crackdown: report

May 23, 2019 09:55
A Hikvision logo is seen at an exhibition during the World Intelligence Congress in Tianjin on May 16. The company's products have been put to use for large-scale video surveillance in China. Photo: Reuters

The United States is considering Huawei-like sanctions on Chinese video surveillance firm Hikvision, in action related to China's treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority, Reuters reports, citing a person briefed on the matter.

Hikvision was named in a letter to US President Donald Trump’s top advisers last month, signed by more than 40 lawmakers, which called for tighter US export controls over China’s treatment of its Uighurs in Xinjiang in western China.

The restrictions, which according to the Reuters source are among several options being considered by the Trump administration, could severely limit Hikvision’s ability to buy US technology from American companies.

The US placed Huawei Technologies on a trade blacklist last week, making it extremely difficult for American firms to do business with the world’s largest telecom network gear maker, in a major escalation in the US-China trade war.

In last year’s defense policy bill, signed by Trump in August, recipients of federal funding were banned from using telecommunications equipment, video recording services and networking components made by Huawei or fellow Chinese gear maker ZTE.

Also in the bill are Chinese audio-video equipment providers Hikvision, Hytera, Dahua Technology and their affiliates.

Hikvision is confident that it can ensure a steady components supply chain without US help.

“Even if the US stops selling them to us, we can remedy this through other suppliers,” a Hikvision executive told Reuters on condition of anonymity, adding that “most of the suppliers are actually in China.”

The New York Times was first to report the possible blacklisting of Hikvision. Bloomberg, citing sources, reported that the US government was deliberating whether to add Hikvision, security equipment maker Zhejiang Dahua Technology and several other unidentified firms to a blacklist.

Hikvision, with a market value of more than US$37 billion, calls itself the world’s largest video surveillance gear maker.

The company’s products, including closed-circuit TV products, traffic and thermal cameras, and unmanned aerial vehicles, are used in public places across China.

China has faced growing global condemnation for setting up facilities in Xinjiang that UN experts describe as mass detention centers holding more than one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims.

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