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U.S. DoD says Hikvision tied to China’s military

Categories Biometrics News  |  Surveillance  |  Trade Notes

Hikvision biometric facial recognition cameras

It was a secret list everyone in Washington and Beijing knew about. The list spotlighted hidden government sponsorship of firms that was the widest of open secrets. And the White House said the list, which it knew about all along, now enables it to penalize the cited companies, which it is already punishing.

Biometrics firm Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. Ltd. is one of the listed companies. The others are in aviation, aerospace, electronics, shipbuilding, telecommunications and civilian nuclear power.

All are entangled with the ruling Chinese Communist Party. Being more specific, the Department of Defense says, these firms are either controlled or owned by China’s military. It puts highlighted companies — many of whom already are sanctioned by the Unites States — on notice they their ties could cause them more trouble.

Washington’s accusation is hard to defend against (although many vehemently do so) because of the intimate relationship between the Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army.

Hikvision, which makes video surveillance cameras and drones, has in the past said it is not owned by the military, nor does it perform research and development for military products. And while its executives have said they want to be transparent, they acknowledge that, for corporate reasons, they cannot discuss all areas of their business.

They have already felt the heat of Washington’s ire. Last year, Hikvision along with global telecom equipment maker Huawei were blacklisted from federal contracts after the White House expressed national security concerns. Some saw that move as aimed more at how good they are getting at displacing incumbent U.S. giants.

The list on which Hikvision appears is a who’s who of Chinese engineering and IT outfits that have fanned around the globe, outbidding local industries on massive infrastructure projects.

An opinion piece in Indian publication The Print calls for Hikvision to be barred from government contract in the country, and even suggests the government purchase a controlling interest in Hikvision’s Indian subsidiary.

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