US To Impose Sanctions On China’s Hikvision – Report

The United States is looking to clamp down further on a big name in the CCTV industry, namely China-based .

Hikvision makes surveillance cameras (CCTV) and is widely used around the world by both businesses and consumers for their surveillance needs.

Indeed, according to Top10VPN, more than 1,000 cities have Hikvision cameras installed, with top markets being the US, UK, Brazil, Mexico and Vietnam.

Hikvision sanctions?

But now according to the Financial Times, the Biden administration is moving towards imposing sanctions on Hikvision, after accusing the firm of enabling human rights abuses.

Hikvision is already on the United States Entity List, alongside a slew of other Chinese firms.

Being on the Entity List bans these firms from securing US technology made in America.

But according to the FT, citing four people familiar with the internal discussions, the Biden administration is laying the groundwork to go one step further and place human rights-related sanctions on Hikvision.

Although a final decision has not been taken, the White House reportedly wants to target Hikvision, in what would amount to the first time the US has imposed such sanctions on a big Chinese tech giant.

The US move would have far-reaching consequences because the huge number of companies and governments that already deal with Hikvision, could potentially risk violating US sanctions.

According to the FT, two people familiar with the situation have said the Biden administration has started briefing allies on its intentions, because any measures would have ramifications for the more than 180 countries that use the company’s cameras.

“If enacted these sanctions are a seismic development,” Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch was quoted by the FT as saying. “We have long called for surveillance technologies to be regulated so that they aren’t deployed by abusive governments. Our research shows that Beijing’s tech-enhanced repression extends both inside and outside China.”

The White House and the US Treasury, which would impose the sanctions, did not comment.

Hikvision also reportedly declined to comment.

Human rights

But what exactly has the Hangzhou-based CCTV giant done to incur the wrath of Washington?

Well it seems that Hikvision allegedly supplied the Chinese government with surveillance cameras that facilitate the repression of 1 million Uyghurs who have been detained in camps in the north-western region of Xinjiang.

The Biden administration has followed the Trump administration in accusing Beijing of committing “genocide”.

China for its part has denied it is persecuting Uyghurs in the region.

It should be remembered that in January this year, Tesla was heavily criticised for opening a dealership showroom in the Xinjiang region, despite Western allegations of Chinese abuses in the remote province.

And Intel issued a public apology after a backlash in China, when it wrote to suppliers, warning them not to source products or labour from the Xinjiang region of the country.

Global Magnitsky Act

The FT noted that the US Congress passed the Global Magnitsky Act in 2016, which gives the American government more power to impose sanctions on entities involved in human rights abuses.

The Treasury is responsible for putting companies that run afoul of the law on the Specially Designated Nationals And Blocked Persons list.

US national security officials are also concerned that China could use Hikvision’s cameras to engage in espionage activities.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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