August 23, 2019

Trump Administration Could Blacklist Chinese Surveillance Technology Firm

Trump Administration Could Blacklist Chinese Surveillance Technology Firm

The Commerce Department and the White House declined to comment. Hikvision did not respond to a request for comment.

Hikvision is little known in the United States, but the company supplies large parts of China’s extensive surveillance system. The company’s products include traffic cameras, thermal cameras and unmanned aerial vehicles, and they now allow Chinese security agencies to monitor railway stations, roads and other sites.

It is not immediately clear what effect a United States ban would have on Hikvision’s business. The company appears to source just a small portion of its components from the United States, and any such ban could speed its efforts to switch to Chinese suppliers.

But Hikvision does have a growing international presence, and its executives have warned in the past about the potential for growing anti-China sentiment in the United States to affect its operations. The company says it has more than 34,000 global employees and dozens of divisions worldwide, and it has supplied products to the Beijing Olympics, the Brazilian World Cup and the Linate Airport in Milan. It has tried to expand into North America in recent years, employing hundreds of workers in the United States and Canada, setting up offices in California and building a North American research and development team headquartered in Montreal.

Members of Congress from both parties have called on the administration to impose sanctions on companies involved in aiding China’s persecution of Muslims, including Hikvision. In an August 2018 letter, legislators also urged the Commerce Department to strengthen its controls over technology exported to these companies, and called on the government to increase disclosure requirements for publicly traded companies that might be complicit in human rights abuses.

Hikvision and Dahua, another company cited by lawmakers, are both listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange. MSCI, one of the largest index providers in the United States, added Hikvision to its benchmark emerging markets index last year. UBS and J. P. Morgan are among the company’s top 10 shareholders, according to Hikvision.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, said in an interview that the House Intelligence Committee, which he leads, could scrutinize more closely American companies that are investing in or partnering with Chinese firms that are building up the Chinese surveillance state.

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