Hikvision Cameras Covering Concentration CampsBy: IPVM Team, Published on Jul 29, 2019
Hikvision cameras monitoring a concentration camp were shown in a recent BBC investigation:
The video excerpt shows the Hikvision cameras and what is done inside that camp:
Hikvision declined to comment when we asked whether they will look into the matter, despite previously pledging an 'internal review' of its human rights compliance.
Because China makes visiting these camps independently impossible, the BBC joined an official government tour. During a tour of the Hotan County Education Training Center, the BBC zoomed in for about 5 seconds on a surveillance camera post:
Camera Identified: DarkFigher X PTZ
IPVM has identified the bottom camera as Hikvision's DarkfighterX PTZ model.
Although such cameras have a wide variety of applications, in a prison-like setting, such a model would make particular sense, e.g. to automatically detect and track someone trying to escape at night.
Re-education Camp Context
The intention of the BBC's shot of the camera is clear - while the PRC government claims the camps are voluntary 'vocational schools for criminals', in reality, the camps operate much like prisons, full of surveillance cameras, barbed wire, tasers, etc.
These tours are quite obviously staged to show the camps in the best possible light, with government minders overseeing every 'interview' with invariably happy detainees giving canned quotes; on a different tour of the same camp, Chinese state media reported a detainee told journalists:
After learning the law, I realized how dangerous I was. I thank the Party and the government for saving me!
Hikvision's Xinjiang Operations
Hikvision is deeply involved in Xinjiang surveillance, having won ~$300 million worth of (publicly disclosed) surveillance projects with Xinjiang authorities and police departments (see Dahua and Hikvision Win Over $1 Billion In Government-Backed Projects In Xinjiang). These massive projects are wide-ranging and include:
- in Moyu County, a surveillance system for a 're-education' / concentration camp and mandatory facial recognition cameras for almost 1,000 mosques
- in Pishan County, a surveillance system for a 're-education' / concentration camp and mosque surveillance systems
- in Yutian County, a surveillance system for mosques
IPVM was unable to find specific tenders/announcements for the surveillance system of the Hotan County Education Training Center, which is pictured below (the writing on top states "New Era, New Journey, New Chapter"):
However, finding such direct evidence has become increasingly difficult, with PRC authorities consistently scrubbing or not even publishing once-publicly available information, as observed by Xinjiang researcher Adrian Zenz:
Hikvision's Human Rights Review
In response to possible US government sanctions, Hikvision announced in its first-ever ESG report that it had "commissioned an internal review of our operations" from Washington D.C. law/lobbying firm Arent Fox to "help ensure human rights compliance going forward." Hikvision told PRC state media that Arent Fox's Pierre-Richard Prosper, a former US official at the UN, had specifically been tasked with this:
Hikvision Refuses Comment
More than a month before publishing, we informed Hikvision of their cameras shown in the BBC investigation, asking how the camera ended up there and whether this would be investigated as part of the internal review. We also asked when the review would be finished and whether its conclusions will ever be made public.
Hikvision declined to comment on all counts. Arent Fox did not return repeated requests for comment.
Concentration Camp Projects Ongoing
However, Hikvision's July 20, 2019 financial report proves that Hikvision knows of these projects, including concentration camps, as they have taken on hundreds of millions of RMB loans to do them, as the excerpt below shows:
Shows Lack of Human Rights Commitment
Hikvision talks about their commitment to human rights but when faced with the globally respected BBC showcasing their cameras in a chilling investigation into human rights abuses, they are silent.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong's SCMP reports that Hikvision is stocking piling crucial parts as a Hikvision official says that US sanctions "may drop in all of sudden tomorrow".
Update: October 2019 - The US has sanctioned Hikvision for human rights violations and abuses.