Hikvision Cameras Covering Concentration Camps

By: IPVM Team, Published on Jul 29, 2019

Hikvision cameras monitoring a concentration camp were shown in a recent BBC investigation:

Hikvision Cameras Covering Concentration Camp

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.

BBC Report

The BBC went to Xinjiang, a vast part of western China where the PRC government is holding an estimated 1 million Muslim ethnic minorities in 're-education camps'.

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

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IPVM has identified the bottom camera as Hikvision's DarkfighterX PTZ model.

In a promotional video about the DarkFighter X series, a Hikvision rep stated the series "can achieve color images in low-light situations as low as 0.001 lux". We tested the DarkFighter X in 2018.

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:

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.

3 reports cite this report:

The 2020 Video Surveillance Industry Guide on Dec 20, 2019
The 300-page, 2020 Video Surveillance Industry Guide covers the key events and the future of the video surveillance market, is now available, group...
Hikvision And Dahua Sanctioned For Human Rights Abuses on Oct 07, 2019
In a groundbreaking move that will have drastic consequences across the video surveillance market, Dahua and Hikvision have been sanctioned by the...
IFSEC Report: US Ban Hurting Hikvision In Europe on Sep 04, 2019
Prominent UK publication IFSEC Global has issued a new report finding that US bans are impacting the purchase of 'Chinese' products, most notably...

Comments (9)

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The BBC link is now history, so this is YouTube Version which I guess will stay about for a long time.

It's still on the BBC website. The link just got messed up in the perma.cc site.

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-china-48667221/inside-china-s-thought-transformation-camps

 

Have you guys seen this video? Really opens your eyes into how massive this project is. It's not just one or two camps in a small part of China. This covers a HUGE geographical location. 

Thank you for sharing, this was very insightful (and disturbing)

Response on Facebook share of this report:

This is wrong.

The Chinese PRC government owns an entity (CETHIK) that was set up to run and control Hikvision. From Hikvision's own financials:

Image result for cethik hikvision

As for what the Chinese government says this, once you watch the BBC investigation (and the many others done, like the VICE one shared above), it is obvious this is nothing like US vocational education schools. This is torture and imprisonment on a gargantuan scale, made even worse by the PRC government's attempts to conceal and distort what they are doing.

Hack into it and see what what is happening?

Comments about Chinese concentration camps should be a bipartisan issue........let's keep the partisan division out of this topic.....

Here is more about Hikvision saying sanctions may drop 'tomorrow'. It is from the H1 2019 investor call transcript, the relevant section below translated into English:

Q: About inventory, we noticed the component increased by 90% and the inventory also increased by 30%. These compared to the previous quarters have increased a lot. Can we understand that as a preparation for channel distribution?

A: Since the second half of last year until now, especially around May, there has been news about the U.S. export entity list sanctions. So it is a safe and stable move to stockpile raw components. There's no sanction today, but maybe it will suddenly come tomorrow. We need to ensure the sustainable productivity. Although we have alternative suppliers, it takes time to switch from one supplier to another. New suppliers also need time to organize production for us. Increasing the stockpile will give us the elasticity of our business operation. In the past, we put a relatively higher priority for funds prepared for component and inventory stockpiling. Based on the sanction experience happened to Huawei and ZTE, a certain amount of component stock is a safe approach for Chinese high tech companies to ensure the supply chain safty, it's also a natural business decision. There's no better way. In the future, even if there may be a day when the sanction voices become softened, there may be other uncertainties we need to take into consideration. ... About the inventory, we are positive on our operations' outlook in the second half of the year. To achieve the 20% sale revenue growth, we need a significant shipment of goods in the second half. Thank you. [emphasis added]

There has been a lot of talk about HikVision and China and Human Rights.  Though not quite to the same level, it appears Microsoft is investing in an Israeli company that is allegedly aiding states like Russia and Hong Kong (in addition to Israel) use Facial Recognition to infringe on Human Rights. 

This may be the new norm.

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