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First Huawei, then DJI now Hikvision. The US has placed another major Chinese tech manufacturer in its crosshairs. The Department of Commerce is reportedly considering placing an export ban on one of the world's largest surveillance camera manufacturers the New York Times says.
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The ban would mean US companies would need to obtain government approval to sell components to the Chinese surveillance firm. Between 2011 and 2017, Hikvision was the world’s largest surveillance camera maker according to a research report by IHS Markit published in July 2018.
Big companies threatened by the export ban
If the ban goes ahead Hikvison would be placed alongside Huawei on the US Government's Security Entity List. Companies on the list are required to get approval from the US Government before that can do business with US companies.
Earlier this week, the US federal administration released an alert warning about Chinese made drones, suggesting that they could be used to transfer information from the US to Chinese authorities.
The world's largest commercial drone maker Shenzhen-based DJI, the world's largest commercial drone maker is clearly the target of the warning despite its company name not being explicitly mentioned.
Hikvison released a statement on Baidu that outlined its views on the news. "The company has taken the initiative to hire US professionals to conduct an independent review of the company's business, and professionals will respond to the concerns of overseas stakeholders after obtaining sufficient evidence," the translation from the Guardian reads.
Hikvision says it can do without US
The company shares dipped in the hours following the report. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said that China opposes the US’s attempts to discredit major Chinese companies. Hikvision told local news, that it has options to source the chips that it usually purchases from American companies from local suppliers and that the ban would not affect its ongoing business.
China is a massive consumer of surveillance cameras. It is estimated there is approximately 1 camera in operation for every 7 citizens.
While China says the majority of the cameras are for security and traffic control. Reports are emerging that the cameras in combination with AI-powered facial recognition software are being used to track the Uyghur Muslim population in the Xinjiang region.
The ban may present the ban on Hikvision as a human rights issue but it's clear that the possible ban is just another move in his escalating trade war with China.