Government-Owned Hikvision Wants To Keep Politics Out Of Security

By: John Honovich, Published 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 competitors.

However, Hikvision is now upset that 'politics', in the form of US sanctions for human rights abuses, is undermining their business.

Hikvision Protests Sanctions as Politics

Hikvision executives protested sanctions as American politics on their China investor's call:


Sanctions are more like American politicians...American politicians are more interested in sanctions

From the very top of Hikvision China to Hikvision USA staff members such objections are common, for example, this recent declaration to keep 'politics out of the security business':

Indeed, Hikvision has made the same objection to us repeatedly since 2015 when we first started reporting on their PRC China government ownership. Hikvision firmly believes politics has nothing to do with the security industry, except...

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Happy For PRC China Politics

Hikvision has no problem with PRC politics. Let's keep in mind:

Hikvision is being hypocritical but that is not unique nor the most important issue here.

Politics Has Made Hikvision A Goliath

The problem is PRC China politics has made Hikvision a goliath, a company that is 7x as large as the largest Western manufacturer (Axis). Hikvision is so huge and so profitable from its enormous protected China business and human rights-abusing projects that it can disrupt the West with unprecedented sales spending and low prices.

No Escaping Politics for Anyone In Security Industry

Almost no one in the security industry wants to be involved in politics. But none of us have a choice. Hikvision and the PRC China government has made politics the core driving force of the entire industry.

Is Hikvision willing (or able) to take politics out of the China security business? Of course not.

The only choice for everyone else is whether we allow PRC China politics to dominate the entire global industry. You can choose yes to that but you need to realize you are making a political choice.

Hikvision Dealers Benefit From 'China' 'Politics'

And if you are a Hikvision dealer, you are benefiting from China 'politics':

Hikvision dealers benefit from Hikvision's government ownership, from its funding, from its massive resources and profits it amasses from blocking our foreign companies and winning massive human rights abusing projects.

And it is totally fair for Hikvision dealers to complain that US 'politics' hurts their profits from selling Hikvision so long as Hikvision dealers remember than China Communist Party 'politics' has benefited them greatly.

Everyone Needs To Deal With It

We all have to deal with politics, whether we like it or not. We need to stop making excuses or complaining about politics not being relevant.

We probably would all be better off without 'politics' in security but this is where we are. We need to figure out the best solution, accepting the reality of the situation.

Hikvision - Own Your Politics

And Hikvision needs to own its PRC China politics. It is certainly free (in the Western sense) to complain about US 'politics' but Hikvision is the industry's greatest beneficiary of politics. Only then can we fairly and appropriately assess what to do about politics in security.

Comments (25)

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Well said.

Well said what? The proofs listed herein do not make any sense at all. It looks like you tell the same story but with two completely different tendencious attitudes, just depends on whether you do like or don't. Assuming your statement is correct, how can you tell the business success story about 'Lockheed Corporation', Boeing in USA, and ' Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan, Siemens and Bosch in Germany?

It looks like you tell the same story but with two completely different tendencious attitudes

#7, can you clarify what you mean?

More broadly, given you are citing many large companies with government business, I am guessing you mean that such government funding practices are common? Is that correct?

Assuming that, 2 points - (1) The biggest one - no other country is doing what China is doing with video surveillance manufacturing. It would be one thing if the EU, US and PRC were all starting, funding and blocking out foreign competitors. It's not. Only the PRC is.

Secondly, while those companies you cite are outside our industry and my expertise, it is pretty clear, a company like Boeing is privately founded, privately built and privately run. It certainly has government business but it's quite unlike Hikvision.

it's like watching a bully say he was bullied after he was told to no longer bully.

I can certainly understand high ranking Hikvision corporate employees promoting this "no politics" spin, I'm sure they're almost required to by virtue of their employment with Hikvision. What I don't understand is more of the "rank and file" employees, particularly those in other countries, that echo this attempted spin, attaching their personal name and reputation to it. Surely these people must realize the risks Hikvision is facing, and the increased awareness around them?

It is one thing to potentially be an ex-Hikvision employee, looking for a new job after you have realized that Hikvision sales are stalling, or that the company is too closely associated with these political issues. But it is another thing entirely to be an ex-Hikvision employee who was a vocal supporter of the company, out looking for a new job, and having to explain your views on ethics and support for the company.

I guess in their favor, they would be viewed as particularly loyal, though not very intelligent. Some companies value that personality combination highly I suppose.

Great article. Let me ask this question, had Hikvision not start selling cameras so cheap compared to the other players, and consumer cameras today as cheap as they are, do you think another player would have starting lowering their prices?

The reason I asked this is because everywhere I go I look to see if stores or companies have cameras and I’ve noticed a lot more are buying consumer grade cameras instead of having commercial grade cameras. I am pretty sure price has something to do with it because everywhere you go you hear about Ring cameras, Arlo or Nest cameras. And the unfortunate part of that is by the time they are done they could have had a better system then off the shelf stuff. My friend runs a bank branch and they use Arlo cameras! That blows my mind.

John, good question / observations!

I am pretty sure price has something to do with it because everywhere you go you hear about Ring cameras, Arlo or Nest cameras

I agree with what you are seeing and price has something but interestingly, those cameras are not inexpensive compared to Hikvision or Ezviz, Hikvision's direct consumer option.

had Hikvision not start selling cameras so cheap compared to the other players, and consumer cameras today as cheap as they are, do you think another player would have starting lowering their prices?

I won't try to speculate on what could have happened but I know for sure lots of commercial video surveillance manufacturers essentially gave up because of Hikua - they viewed it as pointless to invest in R&D or new products when Hikua would quickly match and drop prices lower and lower.

  • The PRC government created Hikvision. Did Hikvision object? No.

does a lump of clay object to the potter?

Papa John's got rid of John Schnatter

Apple got rid of Steve Jobs

Even more here: 10 Founders that Were Fired from Their Own Company - StartUp Mindset

Of course John Schnatter and Steve Jobs had comparatively fewer machine guns at their disposal.

I thought you would have picked Pinocchio.

Image result for pinocchio nose growing gif

"Were you created by the PRC government?" "Golly no sir"

"Are you controlled by the PRC government? "Where did you get that idea from?

"Is your chairman a member of the PRC government?" "What, no!"

There are still guys actively hiring people to sell and install analog! Obviously these aren't ideal clients but it does go to show how much the market demands more affordable security solutions, even if it did come at the price that it did.

And not to make this thread even more political but if countries were fairly treated based on human rights abuses the U.S. wouldn't be able to do business anywhere and US corporations are no stranger to corporate-welfare either. Business and politics goes hand in hand and this might be shocking but a lot of the things we own were produced with slave labor, should we boycott those brands too?

Not sure if my comments earlier today may have inspired this article but it's a catch 22 and at the end of the day we give the client what they want and it's usually their decision because of final cost. The economy itself forces these conditions and in cases where it's our decision, we have to go with the bottom line the same way US based vendors do. Shouldn't integrator's be the last on the totem pole expected to make a change?

Not sure if my comments earlier today

No, it was the Hikvision employee comment cited in the post. Btw, that guy is hysterical, he's trying to deattach himself from Hikvision's abuses by arguing Hikvision USA is separate:

He should get an Olympic medal for that type of mental gymnastics. For the record, Hikvision's own China financials show Hikvision USA is 100% by Hikvision China.

fairly treated based on human rights abuses the U.S. wouldn't be able to do business anywhere

Ok, go for it, name any US, Canadian or EU video surveillance companies that has any connection to any human rights abuses?

Well if you pay taxes and are subject to impositions by that same countries authority such as the blacklist or anything in the name of national security aren't we all technically government owned and operated? Our dollars support the same, one way or another.

A company is a body of employees so why should we judge them based solely on the affiliation of their main owners only as if they are too somehow directly funding any of the human rights issues (backdoors etc. aside). I'm really trying to fairly see it from both sides though and your thoughts are much appreciated.

aren't we all technically government owned and operated?

What? Seriously, what? So you think you are owned by the US government? Please elaborate.

solely on the affiliation of their main owners only

No, Hikvision USA is 100% owned by Hangzhou Hikvision Technology Company. This is direct and complete control, not any form of indirect 'affiliation'.

Wait, you think you're not? Do you get to decide foreign affairs? Neither does Hikvision..they are still concerning for other reasons but I think the idea of public or private companies is an illusion in a lot of ways, maybe I'm overthinking it.

I think this sales engineer is making a big mistake he will regret in the future.

I'm kind of with you #1. I am stuck in the middle on this subject. As an American and business owner, it angers me that the playing field isn't level; with China barring imports while exporting all their stuff to us and manipulating our market with basement level pricing. And I hate that ANY country is abusing their citizens or denying them basic human rights. However, also as an American and business owner, I realize that MANY countries abuse their people and deny them their rights and we continue to do business with them because "the oil is so important" or "its better to keep your enemy close" or "our allies need those countries or something they have". Whatever the excuse, we find a way to continue working with countries who are as bad or worse than China in the area of human rights and we justify it. No one thinks worse of you for using the gasoline that comes from petroleum imports from Saudi Arabian or Iraq right? (both in the top 10 list) So, I resent being told that if I buy Hik Vision it essentially makes me un-American. 10 years ago it was perfectly fine to do business with China and now its not. Which country is next? The Philippines seem to be having some pretty serious political issues around human rights abuses and media attacks these days, which side are we going to come down on with them? I know this community doesn't want to get into the political weeds and partisan BS that is our social media world these days BUT....John's posting of this opinion piece (IMHO) opened the conversation to political opinions. So, can I safely admit that I buy Hik Vision or will I be besmirched by this community? I buy it because in my application the cameras are on a very small, 4 camera, closed LAN in EVERY case. They are never placed on a customers network. The only thing a hacker will every see if they hack into one of our systems is the 4 cameras on that system and maybe what I'm looking at but that's mostly dirt and tractors. So my applications are not highly security sensitive but they ARE highly price sensitive and Hik cameras have performed flawlessly. I'd like to be able to ask some technical questions specific to Hik on this forum but I don't feel like I can anymore because based on the comments on this chain so far, being a Hik dealer is considered un-American?!?!?!? I liked it better when IPVM was a forum I could count on to escape the BS, spin and deceit of politics & traditional trade rags to get tested, focused, solid, TECHNICAL information and field feedback without political, religious or other personal "beliefs" injected.

We keep talking nonstop about China and HIK

Let's talk about who is the biggest exporters of weapons in the world


It's the USA

By the way, Weapon kills People

Cameras do not

World's largest arms exporters

biggest weapon export country - Google Search

Which security company is it that the US Government has a controlling interest in?

This entire issue leaves me torn. I firmly believe Hikvision has some of the finest hardware available and I'm very much enamored with their Darkfighter products (hoping to try the Colorvu next).

However as someone that values freedom, I am very much against what the Chinese government has become and what it stands for. The continuing crisis in HK I think has been a rude wake-up call for everyone across the globe, and increasingly the elephant in the room can no longer be conveniently ignored.

I would much rather use products made elsewhere, and I'm sure others would as well. However Axis products for example cost multiple times what Hikvision's do for equal performance. As a hobbyist and side-gig installer, my clients do not have the budget for Axis, ever.

Western society has, for decades, built its opulent and materialistic self on the backs of cheap third world materials and labor, primarily China. That's now coming back to bite us in the ass because we were too arrogant and selfish to acknowledge it would become a problem.

The way the flip flop to suit their current wants / desires makes you wonder if they are not all frustrated wanna be politicians

It is a huge waste of your reader's time to continue wailing about this on and on and on.

I would give you at least 100 "agree" if I can.

You are aware that you can decide what time you wish to spending reading here right?

The US government does not issue an IPVM reading quota.

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