Hikvision Conducts Military Training For New EmployeesBy: Charles Rollet, Published on Apr 04, 2019
Hikvision's new employees recently completed a boot camp where they wore Chinese army uniforms and were trained by former army personnel, as shown in the images we obtained from the camp:
While IPVM was able to find this via the camp's social media page, Hikvision itself has not promoted the trainings, amidst concerns about Hikvision's Chinese government ownership and profits from human rights abuses.
Willy Lam, an adjunct history professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told IPVM that such camps "are one of the largest growing industries in China" as the country undergoes a nationalistic/militaristic revival under president Xi Jinping.
Boot Camp Background
The boot camp is called the Zhejiang Military Culture Park and was founded in April 2017, according to its website. It is registered as a private company and states that it "provides military-quality education, national defense education, and good [character] education to youthful citizens across the country." The camp is in Hikvision's home province and spans more than 1,700 acres, according to the camp.
Former Chinese army and police officials conduct the training which lasts up to a week, including the Chief Instructor and 'Ministers' listed in the image below from their own site:
At the end of last month, the social media page for Zhejiang Military Culture Park published two posts about Hikvision employees taking part in the boot camps. The first, on March 23, included photos of youths in Chinese army uniforms and introduced them as fresh college graduates part of Hikvision's New Recruit Battalion:
Another shows the hammer and sickle (the symbol of China's ruling Communist Party) and a banner that states "Train as if you are fighting, Fight as if you are training;":
Then, on March 26, a new post was published stating that the "Hikvision team is currently undergoing military research and studies", as shown in the intro. [Update: This post has since been deleted but a screencap of the original can be viewed here.]
That post also included photos of the recruits such as:
Types of Training, Ideological Factors
According to accounts posted on the camp's website for other companies, training typically involve activities like wall climbing, obstacle courses, and battle simulations, but also clearly ideological activities like pledging loyalty to the Communist Party. The ideological aspect is hinted at in the camp's March 23 social media post that featured Hikvision, which includes a photo attributing the camp's founding to China's top leader Xi Jinping:
The text reads:
We establish Zhejiang Military Culture Park in response to President Xi's National Defense concept, to make full use of the veterans' unique advantages, and build a connected organization made up of veterans, in order to strengthen the citizens' defense concept nationwide and to strengthen national defense education among teenagers.
Purpose And Prevalence
As one training noted, the main goal of the camp is to
enhance [employee] self-confidence, improve perseverance, enable them to surpass themselves, improve their ability to solve problems, and enhance their sense of participation and responsibility towards the collective.
In that sense, except for the overt military and political elements, it is similar to other corporate training programs.
Military training is obligatory in China for most students, typically lasting the first two weeks of the academic year in what is considered a 'rite of passage', so the military context is more familiar.
However, IPVM could find no instance of Hikvision's direct Chinese rivals such as Dahua, Uniview, Tiandy, or ZKTeco using such military camps for employee training.
The Zhejiang Military Culture Camp itself provides military-style training to a wide array of schools and private companies in China, everything from a local pharma firm to China's Herbalife branch to a primary school.
Huawei Military Training
One company that has conducted military training is Huawei. This is considered part of Huawei's "Wolf Culture", which emphasizes extremely aggressive expansion tactics. The 2013 Chinese book "The Huawei Story" notes:
The military training is aiming at changing the spiritual outlook of new employees and shaping their bodies.
...the military training is not just a pre-post training for new employees, even battle-scarred supervisors at all levels in the marketing department have to attend the military training for one week
Huawei is well-known for having a founder, Ren Zhengfei, who is a former PLA engineer; Zhengfei often uses military analogies to motivate his employees, for example recently comparing Huawei's consumer electronics division to the Communist Party's wartime struggles in the 1930s. Huawei's deputy chairman Eric Xu outright stated in an internal memo:
This is wartime
We don't need soldiers who cannot fight or generals who cannot command
Professor Willy Lam told IPVM via email that the practice of military-style bootcamps for companies is becoming more popular in China as a way to showcase loyalty to the state:
Big firms (even private ones – and both tech and non-tech firms) send recruits to boot camps probably to ensure their loyalty to a) their employers; b) the Party, which ultimately controls all big companies in China.
Wo-Lap added that military-style boot camps are part of an ideological revival in China:
All these tie in with Mao’s concept of “people warfare.” Ordinary citizens become soldiers in times of war. This used to be Cold War doctrine. But this has been revived by XJP [Xi Jinping] to beef up what already is the world’s most formidable police state apparatus.
Response from Recruits
How popular this military training is for Hikvision employees is unclear to us. We did search for Hikvision comments and found two users on Chinese internet forums sharing experiences.
One Hikvision employee stated in an online thread about why people left Hikvision that the boot camp was a bad experience, with whole teams punished for one person's mistake and an almost cult-like atmosphere:
Every day, I recited corporate values, shouted slogans, and people who didn't know [about it] thought it was a pyramid scheme.
In another forum post, a user called the military training "bullshit," "torture", and "brainwashing", noting:
What this company needs is an employee who is determined to execute orders without independent personality and autonomy.
No Comment Hikvision (UPDATE: Declined to Comment)
IPVM initially did not receive a response to our request for comment about this training from Hikvision. Later, Hikvision officially declined to comment.
Challenges - Line Between Private Company And Government
While companies like Huawei and Hikvision emphasize being private companies in their Western marketing, this training, with explicit military and Communist Party themes, runs counter to that. The concern among many in the West is the control and influence of the Chinese Communist Party, which this training further underscores.