Chinese Government Builds Far-Reaching, Allegedly Corrupt, Surveillance System in Ecuador

By: Charles Rollet, Published on Mar 13, 2018

Thousands of Chinese security cameras, including many made by Huawei, are watching Ecuadorians around the clock thanks to an integrated emergency response system designed and built by a Chinese state-owned company accused of massively overcharging for its work.

ECU 911 Overview

The Chinese government loaned Ecuador $240 million in 2012 to build a modern 911-style service dubbed ECU 911 [link no longer available]. The system now has 4,145 cameras and 16 response centers across the country and recently made headlines after Chinese state media said it helped reduce Ecuador’s crime rate.

ECU 911’s cameras have been credited countless times for helping police nab bank robbers [link no longer available], assault suspects, and many others. In the capital of Quito alone, ECU 911 receives some 3,000 calls a day.

But while ECU 911 may have substantially improved Ecuador’s domestic security, it’s not been without controversy.

Corruption Allegations

The Chinese state-owned firm which built [link no longer available] ECU 911 and supplied it with its cameras, hardware, and software was accused of large-scale overcharging by Ecuador’s comptroller.  

The China National Electronics Import and Export Corporation or CEIEC is a subsidiary of major defense contractor Chinese Electronics Corporation and was the driving force behind ECU 911.

Last year, local media reported that CEIEC and Chinese construction firm CAMC made over $32m worth of entirely unjustified expenses during ECU 911’s construction. It was also reported that some of the projects were shoddily built as a result.

Ecuador’s current interior minister, who supervised ECU 911’s development at the time, said in January that he had fulfilled the comptroller’s recommendations and denied the existence of a report that assigned criminal responsibility to those who oversaw the project.

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Ecuadorian media outlet La Posta [link no longer available] had claimed that the report existed but mysteriously disappeared from the Comptroller’s Office. As of now, there are no public indication that a criminal case has been opened.

Running the ECU 911 

What is clear is that China and Ecuador cooperate closely in running ECU 911. Some 20 Chinese engineers at the headquarters in Quito work “day and night to ensure this life-saving system runs well,” Xinhua reported [link no longer available].

China hasn’t shied away from heavily promoting its investment, either. President Xi Jinping visited the HQ in Quito in 2016 to inaugurate a lab financed by a $10m Chinese loan.  

The lab is a joint Chinese-Ecuadorian operation with employees from both countries. An ECU 911 official told Xinhua that two ECU 911 delegations had traveled to China to learn from the country’s surveillance methods. Another Ecuadorian official told Xinhua the lab was working with “Chinese video cameras” to explore the possibility of using intelligent video analysis.

Results of ECU 911

Such extensive cooperation appears to have achieved results.

The lab has already implemented a mobile device tracking program to help find missing people, according to Xinhua, while the South China Morning Post reported earlier this year that ECU 911 has successfully used facial recognition technology in Ecuador’s two largest airports of Quito and Guayaquil and in the city of Cuenca.

Camera Manufacturers Include Huawei 

It is unclear exactly which company or companies produce the actual cameras used by ECU 911. However, it appears many of them are made by Huawei.

An ECU 911 document on the Ecuadorian government’s official public expenditures website shows the program bought 225 Huawei IPC6625-Z30 PTZ domes in 2016 for slightly over $3,500 each. 

Another [link no longer available] ECU 911 document shows 68 Huawei cameras installed at the Ministry of Education in the city of Machala.  

There are several [link no longer available] other [link no longer available] examples [link no longer available] of public expenditure documents indicating that ECU 911 has purchased at least hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cameras, servers, and other equipment from Huawei.

In March 2017, an Ecuadorian business journal wrote that Huawei “developed the technology of public institutions like ECU 911.” Huawei also has an office in Quito.

No Indication Of Dahua Or Hikvision In System

There’s no indication that other major Chinese surveillance manufacturers like Hikvision and Dahua cameras are being used for ECU 911; neither are mentioned in ECU 911’s publicly-available expenditure records. CEIEC has, however, considered buying cameras from those manufacturers before: a tender document on CEIEC’s website lists Hikvision and Dahua as finalists for a 2014 contract to supply surveillance equipment to a major bank in China.

China Companies Benefit

Regardless, CEIEC, Huawei, and other Chinese companies stand to benefit hugely from China’s increasing competition with the US over influence in Latin America. Besides Ecuador, China has exported its considerable surveillance prowess to countries like Bolivia, which received a $105m Chinese loan in 2016 for another wide-ranging surveillance project. 

There’s little sign China is slowing down its ambitions in the region. Earlier this year, China invited Latin America to participate in its ambitious One Belt, One Road project. 

In a press release, CEIEC said it was building projects similar to ECU 911 in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Trinidad and Tobago. “ECU 911 is a successful example of ‘going global’ in China’s informatization capabilities,” the release stated.

ECU 911 did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

1 report cite this report:

Huawei To Be “Top Three Global Position” in Video Surveillance on Oct 29, 2018
Huawei - China’s biggest networking gear and smartphone maker - plans to become one of the top three global video surveillance manufacturers in...
Comments (13) : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on China

Hikvision CEO And Vice-Chair Under PRC Government Investigation on Nov 14, 2019
In a surprising and globally covered move, Hikvision CEO Hu Yangzhong and Vice-Chairman Gong Hongjia are being investigated by China's securities...
Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Nov 11, 2019
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video surveillance company, ever, ranging from the WSJ, the Financial Times, Reuters,...
Hikvision Markets Uyghur Ethnicity Analytics, Now Covers Up on Nov 11, 2019
Hikvision has marketed an AI camera that automatically identifies Uyghurs, on its China website, only covering it up days ago after IPVM questioned...
US Issues Criminal Charges For Fraudulently Selling Hikvision And Other China Products on Nov 07, 2019
The US government has made an unprecedented move on the video surveillance supply chain, charging a US company, Aventura for "having conspired with...
Senator Vitter Becomes "Proud Member Of The Hikvision Team", Calls Out "Anti-China" Rubio on Oct 29, 2019
Senator turned China lobbyist David Vitter has become a self-proclaimed 'proud member of the Hikvision team', a China (PRC) government-owned...
Dahua Co-Founder Says Human Rights Sanctions Shows Strong Dahua Technology on Oct 29, 2019
Despite Dahua doing nearly a billion dollars of projects in Xinjiang, including building and operating police stations, Dahua not only denies 'any...
Covert Elevator Face Recognition on Oct 24, 2019
Covert elevator facial recognition has the potential to solve the cost and complexity of elevator surveillance while engendering immense privacy...
Government-Owned Hikvision Wants To Keep Politics Out Of Security on Oct 21, 2019
'Politics' made Hikvision the goliath it is today. It was PRC China 'politics' that created Hikvision, funded it, and blocked its foreign...
US DoD Comments on Huawei, Hikvision, Dahua Cyber Security Concerns on Oct 16, 2019
A senior DoD official said the US is "concerned" with the cybersecurity of Hikvision, Dahua, and Huawei due to "CCP" (China Communist Party)...
Hikvision Dissolves North American Business Unit, Splits Canada and USA on Oct 15, 2019
Hikvision has dissolved its North American Business Unit, splitting up US and Canada operations as the PRC-government owned manufacturer faces...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Hidden Camera Detectors Tested on Nov 18, 2019
Hidden cameras are a growing problem as cameras become smaller, cheaper and easier to access. However, some companies claim to be able to detect...
Wyze Fires Back at JCI - Your Patents Are Invalid, Pay All Of Our Costs on Nov 18, 2019
Goliath JCI targeted startup Wyze this summer alleging the fast-growing consumer startup was violating a slew of JCI's patents. Now, Wyze has...
ADT Stock Surges - "Leading The Commercial Space" on Nov 15, 2019
Don't call it comeback... but maybe call it a commercial provider. ADT, whose stock dropped by as much as 2/3rds since IPOing in 2018, has now...
Gatekeeper Security Company Profile - Detecting Faces Inside Vehicles on Nov 14, 2019
Border security is a common discussion in mainstream US news and politics, as is the use of banned Chinese equipment by US Government agencies....
Hikvision CEO And Vice-Chair Under PRC Government Investigation on Nov 14, 2019
In a surprising and globally covered move, Hikvision CEO Hu Yangzhong and Vice-Chairman Gong Hongjia are being investigated by China's securities...
Camera Field of View (FoV) Guide on Nov 13, 2019
Field of View (FoV) and Angle of View (AoV), are deceptively complex. At their most basic, they simply describe what the camera can "see" and seem...
UK Big Brother Watch: Hikvision Is 'Morally Bankrupt' on Nov 13, 2019
UK civil liberties advocate Big Brother Watch has condemned Hikvision as being 'morally bankrupt' following IPVM exposing Hikvision marketing...
Color Low Light Mega Camera Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Panasonic, Speco, Sony, Vivotek on Nov 12, 2019
This is the biggest color low light shootout ever, testing 20+ super low light models from 10 manufacturers: Increasingly, each manufacturer...
Wireless / WiFi Access Lock Guide on Nov 12, 2019
For some access openings, running wires can add thousands in cost, and wireless alternatives that avoid it becomes appealing. But using wireless...