Hikvision Chairman Affirms China Communist Party Leadership, Celebrates Marx's Birthday

By Charles Rollet, Published Jun 06, 2018, 07:09am EDT

At a recent event commemorating Karl Marx’s 200th birthday, Hikvision Chairman Chen Zongnian stressed the importance of strictly adhering to the Chinese Communist Party:

"[Hikvision] must conscientiously implement the party’s line and principles and policies, ensure that the direction is not deviated, that the top level should strengthen strategic leadership, do a good job of coordination and supervision, and strengthen the party organization."

A ‘Special’ Lesson

The remarks were made on June 2, 2018 when Chen gave a speech at a “special Party lesson” in the city of Hangzhou at CETHIK, Hikvision's parent company and controlling shareholder, set up by the Chinese government to run Hikvision. Chen is simultaneously the Chairman of CETHIK and Hikvision.

During the event, which was attended by over 90 people and which was summarized in a CETHIK news release, Chen spoke about applying unspecified “Marxist principles” to develop Hikvision.

But in a rather capitalist twist, Chen also said that Hikvision needed to work hard to achieve its longtime goal of attaining annual revenue of 100 billion yuan, or ~$15 billion USD. Last year Hikvision's revenue was over $6.5 billion. At its recent growth rate of ~30%, Hikvision would attain that in 3 to 4 years. On the other hand, $15 billion is ~75% of the total global video surveillance market so Hikvision is challenged by the sheer addressable market.

Why China Reveres Marx (Officially)

While China’s economy has been thoroughly capitalist for decades, China is a one-party state where the Communist Party remains in full control of the government.

As part of a drive to rejuvenate China’s values, President Xi Jinping has pushed for greater recognition of historically influential figures like Marx and Mao. That’s why Marx’s 200th birthday was widely celebrated by Chinese state media and government agencies.

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It’s thus unsurprising that a main representative of Hikvision, a state-controlled company, would join the celebrations as well.

Indeed, CETHIK reported that Chen Zongnian’s remarks “conveyed the spirit” of Xi Jinping’s own speech commemorating Marx’s birthday in which Xi stated that Marxism was “totally correct” for China.

Hikvision And The Communist Party

Hikvision's association with the Chinese Communist Party is not new. For example, see our 2016 report Hikvision and the China Communist Party, which showcased the inaugural meeting of Hikvision’s own Communist Party committee in which Chen declared his allegiance to the Party and urged others to “comply with Party discipline.”

Hikvision owes its very existence to the Communist Party-controlled Chinese government. Hikvision grew out of the government’s 52nd Research Institute, a lab established in 1962 for industrial and military research purposes. (Chen Zongnian has been working for Institute since 1986 and is currently its head while Hikvision CEO Hu Yangzhong was the Institute's chief engineer until Hikvision was created in 2001.)

Hikvision also has ties to other Communist Party politicians. For example, Wang Zhigang, the newly-appointed Minister of Science and Technology, used to run the CETC - a state defense conglomerate which owns 100% of the 52nd Research Institute and CETHIK - from 2003 to 2011. Wang visited Hikvision personally in 2013 and 2015. President Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, visited Hikvision in 2015 [link no longer available] as well.>

In 2015, Cheng Huifang, who Hikvision described as a “member of China Communist Party,” was appointed an “independent supervisor” of the firm according to its own stock disclosure. She remains in the position but Hikvision dropped all mention of her Party membership in its latest annual report [link no longer available].

Chen Zongnian Background

Chen Zongnian is not just a regular company chairman, but a loyal member of the Chinese Communist Party. He is the Communist Party Secretary for Hikvision's parent CETHIK and this March, Chen even became a deputy of China’s rubberstamp parliament, the National People’s Congress.

While Chen is not well-known in the West, in China he is the public face of Hikvision. He is often featured in Chinese media giving interviews [link no longer available] or accepting awards where he invariably promotes the Chinese government, Xi Jinping’s policies, and Hikvision.

Sometimes Chen even gets a little poetic in his praise. To commemorate Youth Day last month, Chen hailed Xi Jinping’s “Chinese Dream” theory – a Chinese version of the American dream, which prioritizes economic advancement over political freedoms.

“Chen Zongnian believes that everyone's dream is like a pixel, and an infinite number of pixels converge into a "Chinese dream", CETHIK reported.

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