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US blacklisting for large Chinese video surveillance firm grows more feasible

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After harsh criticisms by US lawmakers of the Chinese government, intensifying trade war climate and the blacklisting of Huawei, the US administration appears poised to crack down on Chinese video surveillance firm Hikvision

After last week's move by the US commerce department to block Huawei Technologies from buying US goods, suspicions emerged that it could blacklist Chinese surveillance giant Hikvision, one of the largest suppliers of video surveillance products. 

Amid an ongoing trade war and the administration's conclusion that Huawei Technologies is involved in activities contrary to national security, the citation of Hikvision in a letter to the US president's top advisers last month - signed by more than 40 lawmakers - raising concerns about China's treatment of Muslim minorities, blacklisting is starting to look more and more feasible.

The letter said China’s actions in its western region - where it has been harshly criticised for its crackdown on and its use of artificial intelligence to profile ethnic Muslims - “may constitute crimes against humanity,” and the lawmakers pressed for tighter US export controls to ensure that US businesses do not aid Chinese government’s repression in Xinjiang.

As Hikvision is suspected to fall into the crosshairs of the US administration, it remains uncertain how hard the firm would be hit in the case of a blacklisting. However, there are signs that the company could handle disruptions to some extent. Only some Hikvision's suppliers would be based in the US, but most others in China. In the event of sanctions, supply disruptions could be compensated through other suppliers, according to a company executive.

Reuters reported that shares in the company, which has been listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange since 2010 started trading 10 per cent lower today (Wednesday), despite claims that the firm was uninformed of the possibility of a US blacklisting.

Late last year, the US threatened to sanction the company on the basis that it has provided thousands of cameras that monitor mosques, schools, and concentration camps in Xinjiang.

Blacklisting would also warn American companies that have worked with Hikvision – including the public-relations firm Burson-Marsteller, the lobbying firm Sidley Austin, and Amazon – 'not to facilitate gross human-rights abuses', according to a report by 'The Nation'.

In the past, the firm was critiqued for allegedly obscuring its Chinese government ownership, according to, an information source on the video surveillance market.

In 2016, a retired senior officer of the Royal Navy, Admiral Alan West, said that Hikvision's ownership would raise ethical and security concerns when it comes to usage of the company's products by the British government.

Hikvision blacklisting considerations surfaced two weeks after San Francisco's ban on live-streaming facial recognition software.

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