Chinese technological giant for surveillance Hikvision has said it does not believe that it is legally concealing its products for sale to US government to allow Chinese surveillance.
However, Hikvision did not respond to the question of whether it cooperates with Chinese intelligence agencies.
This company ranks as the biggest camera manufacturer for surveillance and has close ties to the Chinese state.
It provides its goods to wholesalers, who in turn supply companies and governments frequently with the reseller’s branding as part of a process referred to in the industry as “white labelling”.
While this is not a new commercial model Hikvision was subject to severe scrutiny over its ties towards the Chinese state and its use of products to monitor Uyghurs.
The US had previously had a ban on Hikvision brands from official supply chains. However, in November, regulators took this an additional step and imposed the nationwide ban in response to concerns about security issues for the nation.
What do leaked Pentagon documents show
In the leaked US government document uncovered on The Hikvision is described as “partnering with Chinese intelligence entities” and “using relationships with resellers to disguise its products for sale to government suppliers”.
It claims that it is “creating vectors for Beijing to compromise DoD [Department of Defense] networks” and also that Hikvision’s presence Hikvision products is likely to remain within US federal supply chain “because of the company’s efforts to mask its exports to retain access to US and allies’ markets”.
The document also states that, as of January, white-labeled Hikvision products were available to those who purchased them from America. US government.
Responding to questions regarding the allegations in the report, a Hikvision spokesperson claimed that “it has not, does not and will not violate the law in order to conduct its business”, and added that the company is able to abide by “very clear and longstanding policies in place to prevent the improper labelling of its products by anyone for any reason”.
The company has worked in partnership with government officials from the US government for years to ensure that its products are not in their supply chains, and to “make sure our cameras are never sold improperly” to the US government.
The Hikvision spokesperson has not responded to questions about whether the company is a partner together with Chinese intelligence agencies or if it passes information about clients to these agencies.
The company has repeatedly denied that it poses an imminent threat to national security governments. The company has previously stated that it is unable to access data of end users and thus cannot pass the data to third parties.
The largest shareholder of Hikvision is the government-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corporation.
It also has won contracts worth millions of dollars from the government as China creates a huge surveillance system across the country, including Xinjiang in which the authorities are accused of carrying out genocide against Uyghurs. Some critics say Hikvision is assisting Chinese oppression of those of the Muslim minority.
Hikvision has been subject to increasing suspicion, mainly from Western countries that have been trying to block or remove Hikvision’s activities.
In the UK Government departments were instructed in November to cease installing surveillance cameras manufactured of Chinese businesses in “sensitive sites” because of security fears. The authorities were instructed to think about removing the existing equipment completely.
The Australian government announced in February that it was going to remove CCTV cameras made by China from defence sites.