Congressional Letter Urges Sanctions Against Dahua and Hikvision For Human Rights Abuses

By: Charles Rollet, Published on Sep 04, 2018

17 US Congresspeople sent a letter to the Secretary of State and Treasury urging sanctions against Chinese officials plus Dahua and Hikvision, that, if applied, would shut down Dahua and Hikvision USA, among other ramifications.

This comes as the mega Chinese manufacturers are making hundreds of millions from selling surveillance systems where many, including the UN, accuse China of committing large-scale human rights abuses (e.g. see Hikvision Wins Chinese Government Forced Facial Recognition Project Across 967 Mosques).

In this note, we examine what these sanctions could entail, why this is being pursued, and the potential impact to the industry.

Human Rights Abuses

Xinjiang is a huge region in the PRC's far west which has a large Muslim population, chiefly members of the Turkic ethnic minority known as Uyghurs. Over the last year, the Chinese government has been accused of committing gross human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other Muslims.

This includes allegedly detaining up to 1 million civilians in “re-education” camps, according to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and setting up a massive, intrusive surveillance state including mandatory facial recognition at gas stations, markets, and mosques. Here is an online summary of the alleged abuses and a BBC video embedded below:

While terrorism in Xinjiang is a real problem, many argue the authorities’ response is vastly disproportionate. Xinjiang is home to a longstanding Uyghur movement for independence from China, which activists say Chinese authorities are keen to paint as Islamist terrorism.

For its part China denies violating human and religious freedom rights in Xinjiang, claiming those detained are in harmless “vocational schools.”

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Call For Sanctions

On August 29, 2018, 17 Congress members spearheaded by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) released a letter calling for the Treasury and State departments to impose Global Magnitsky sanctions against those involved in human rights abuses in Xinjiang:

The letter states:

Muslim ethnic minorities are being subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, egregious restrictions on religious practice and culture, and a digitized surveillance system so pervasive that every aspect of daily life is monitored.

Concluding with a call to sanctions referencing IPVM's report on Dahua and Hikvision's contracts:

We therefore urge the Departments of State and Treasury to swiftly act to sanction those individuals and entities complicit in and directing human rights violations... including Chinese companies like Hikvision and Dahua Technology that have profited greatly from the surge in security spending, reportedly winning upwards of $1.2 billion in government contracts for large scale surveillance projects. [emphasis added]

Hikvision And Dahua Impact From Sanctions

Citing Executive Order 13818 expanding 2016’s Global Magnitsky Act, the letter's sanctions would amount to:

  • A freeze on all Hikvision and Dahua assets – from property to cash – in the United States
  • A prohibition on all their transactions with US persons/companies
  • The possible suspension of Hikvision/Dahua executives’ right to obtain visas to the US

In effect, this would totally shut out Hikvision and Dahua from the US market, including buying these companies products, as the order declares:

(a) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and

(b) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

While the excerpt above says 'person', the order defines 'person' to include entities including corporations, noting:

(a) the term “person” means an individual or entity;

(b) the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization

This would affect global supply chains too, since Hikvision and Dahua would no longer be able to buy components from US companies such as Ambarella chips or Techpoint HD-TVI chipsets or WD and Seagate hard drives, etc.

Finally, being under Magnitsky sanctions carries a serious threat to any company’s global image, particularly as it is associated with human rights abuses against Muslims, potentially impacting Hikvision/Dahua’s business in the Middle East or other Muslim areas.

Profiting From Human Rights Abuses

Hikvision and Dahua are extensively involved in Xinjiang’s surveillance state, having won at least a dozen integrated surveillance projects in Xinjiang worth a total of $1.2 billion since 2016 (see Dahua and Hikvision Win Over $1 Billion In Government-Backed Projects In Xinjiang).

The size, scale, and sophistication of these surveillance projects have raised concerns that Hikvision and Dahua are actively assisting Chinese authorities' efforts to monitor millions of innocent civilians while flagging many for indefinite detention.

Update: Dahua and Hikvision are winning these contracts directly from the Chinese government and are not, as is common in the West, simply having their products used by third-parties. For example, take this 2016 contract signing between a Xinjiang city and Dahua directly for ~$94 million USD:

One contract won by Hikvision included a deal to supply cameras directly to a re-education center and set up facial recognition cameras at almost 1,000 mosques in a single county.

No Prior Notice

Hikvision and Dahua would have no way of knowing whether the US government will actually sanction them, as Section 7 of Executive Order 13818 states that “no prior notice” be given to sanctioned entities.

Law professor Julian Ku of Hostra University told IPVM the sanctions are an administrative, not a judicial, decision. Therefore, there is no democratic vote required to sanction a company nor an immediate appeal process.

PRC Responds

The PRC has responded to the sanctions threat, with its foreign ministry spokeswoman saying:

I would like to advise those US lawmakers, who are paid by taxpayers' money, to focus on doing their job and serving the Americans, instead of poking their noses in other countries' domestic affairs, acting as some kind of "human rights judge" to make groundless accusations, or even threatening to impose unreasonable sanctions.

Sanctions Likelihood Unclear

The likelihood of sanctions is unclear. The letter was just submitted days ago, prior to the US holiday weekend. Whether it will be done in weeks, months or never is impossible to determine.

Most companies subject to Magnitsky sanctions are shell companies or obscure entities run by corrupt officials. Hikvision and Dahua are the world’s two large video surveillance firms and employ tens of thousands worldwide (though overwhelmingly inside of China).

However, international trade lawyer Douglas Jacobson told IPVM sanctions remain a realistic threat. He noted that the US government has established deeply harmful sanctions against large Chinese companies before, as happened when it sanctioned Chinese telecom giant ZTE in April, almost forcing it to shut down until the ban was reversed.

Jacobson added that the Trump Administration "could try to use this as leverage” in the ongoing US-China trade war.

No Comments From Dahua, Hikvision Nor SIA

IPVM requested comments from Dahua, Hikvision, and SIA but all our organizations declined to comment on the Congressional letter.

Buyer Beware

Given that the US government has already banned federal agencies from buying Hikvision and Dahua equipment and sanctioned numerous subsidiaries of Hikvision’s parent company, integrators and end users should tread carefully.

Poll / Vote

13 reports cite this report:

Trump Signs 'Huawei Ban' - Executive Order Targeting Foreign Adversary Technology on May 16, 2019
US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order targeting technology provided by 'foreign adversaries', in what is widely being called a...
Hikvision VP On Muslim Oppression on May 14, 2019
Hikvision has won tens of millions of dollars, at least, in direct contracts with the Chinese government that oppresses Muslims, including a forced...
"Automated Racism": Chinese Tech Companies Profiling Ethnic Minority on Apr 26, 2019
Scrutiny of Chinese facial recognition providers, including Hikvision, has sharply increased following a New York Times report that they developed...
ISC West 2019 Report on Apr 12, 2019
The IPVM team has finished at the Sands looking at what companies are offering and how they are changing their positioning. See below for 50+...
Dahua Favorability Results 2019 on Apr 01, 2019
Dahua favorability declined, in IPVM's 2019 integrator favorability series, driven by their backdoors, resulting in mass hacking and US government...
9 UK MPs Call Out Hikvision Over Human Rights Violations on Mar 26, 2019
A group of nine MPs in the UK has released a letter calling out Hikvision for its surveillance deals in Xinjiang and Tibet, alleging Hikvision...
Milestone Adds Anti-Abuse, Anti-China 'Copenhagen Clause' on Feb 26, 2019
Milestone announced, at its annual MIPS Americas partner conference, the addition of a 'Copenhagen clause' that strengthens their human rights...
US Senator Calls Hikvision and Dahua “Puppets of the Chinese Communist Party”, Urges Sanctions on Feb 07, 2019
Tom Cotton, Republican senator from Arkansas, has publicly called Hikvision and Dahua “puppets of the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s...
3 UK MPs Call For Investigating Hikvision Over Xinjiang on Feb 04, 2019
3 UK members of Parliament, including 2 with direct comments to IPVM, have called for the UK government to investigate Hikvision's Xinjiang...
Dahua China Significant Job Cuts on Jan 28, 2019
Dahua China has cut a significant number of jobs in the past few months, according to numerous sources. This is a significant shift from Dahua's...
The 2019 Video Surveillance Industry Guide on Dec 10, 2018
The 300 page, 2019 Video Surveillance Industry Guide, covers the key events and the future of the video surveillance market, is now available,...
Pressure Mounts Against Dahua and Hikvision Xinjiang Business on Nov 19, 2018
Pressure is mounting against Hikvision, Dahua, and other companies operating in Xinjiang as an international outcry brews against the Chinese...
Trump Administration Considers Sanctions Against Dahua and Hikvision on Sep 11, 2018
The Trump administration is considering sanctions against Dahua and Hikvision for their involvement in human rights abuses against minorities...
Comments (89) : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Jul 15, 2019
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video surveillance company, ever, ranging from the WSJ, the Financial Times, Reuters,...
Hikvision's Government Owner Website Blocked To World on Jul 11, 2019
Hikvision's PRC government owner, CETHIK, has had its website blocked outside of China, hiding a major information source proving Hikvision's...
RaySharp Revealed - Major China OEM For Western Consumer Video Surveillance on Jul 02, 2019
RaySharp is mostly unknown, even among people in the video surveillance industry, though it is a major supplier of OEM surveillance equipment such...
2019 Mid-Year Video Surveillance Guide on Jul 01, 2019
IPVM's new 400+ page Mid-Year Industry Guide brings all of these issues and events together in a single resource to read and review. It can be...
China Subway Facial Recognition System Examined on Jun 24, 2019
A China city of 6+ million people has installed facial recognition-enabled gates in subways, allowing commuters to enter stations by simply showing...
IFSEC 2019 Show Report on Jun 19, 2019
The UK's largest trade show, IFSEC, is underway and IPVM has been examining what is new and happening at the show. Inside, we cover: Huawei...
The Scheme Hikvision and China Importers Use To Avoid Tariffs on Jun 17, 2019
Hikvision and numerous China importers are avoiding 25% tariffs by including an SD card slot in their IP cameras to claim they are 'digital still...
NSA Director Keynoting Dahua and Hikvision Sponsored Cybersecurity Conference [Canceled] on Jun 13, 2019
The technical director for the NSA’s Cybersecurity Threat Operations Center will be keynoting a physical security cybersecurity conference that is...
Embattled $400 Million China Funded Philippines Surveillance System Proceeds on Jun 13, 2019
An embattled 12,000 camera surveillance system project that will cost ~$400 million will proceed.  The project contract was awarded, had its...
Dumber Techs, Bad Box Movers, Says Australian Distributor on Jun 10, 2019
Techs today are "dumber" than they used to be, despite better education and training and that makes a typical day "frustrating" for one...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Responsibility Split Selecting Locks - Statistics on Jul 22, 2019
A heated access debate surrounds who should pick and install the locks. While responsible for selecting the control systems, integrators often...
Vivotek Trend Micro Cyber Security Camera App Tested on Jul 22, 2019
Vivotek and Trend Micro are claiming five million blocked attacks on IP cameras, with their jointly developed app for Vivotek cameras. This new...
Avigilon ACC7 VMS Tested on Jul 22, 2019
Avigilon's Control Center 7 boldly claims it will "transform live video monitoring" with the new Focus of Attention "AI-enabled" interface. We...
History of Video Surveillance on Jul 19, 2019
The video surveillance market has changed significantly since 2000, going from VCRs to emerging into an AI cloud era.  The goal of this history...
Mobile Access Usage Statistics 2019 on Jul 18, 2019
The ability to use mobile phones as access credentials is one of the biggest trends in a market that historically has been slow in adopting new...
New GDPR Guidelines for Video Surveillance Examined on Jul 18, 2019
The highest-level EU data protection authority has issued a new series of provisional video surveillance guidelines. While GDPR has been in...
Wyze AI Analytics Tested - Beats Axis and Hikvision on Jul 17, 2019
$20 camera disruptor Wyze has released free person detection deep learning analytics to all of their users, claiming users will "Only get notified...
Anyvision Aims For 2022 Revenue of $1 Billion on Jul 17, 2019
Only 3 video surveillance manufacturers do a billion dollars or more in annual revenue - Hikvision, Dahua, and Axis. Now, Anyvision plans to join...
HD Analog vs IP Guide on Jul 16, 2019
For years, HD resolution and single cable signal/power were IP camera advantages, with analog cameras limited to much lower resolution and...
How To Troubleshoot Wiegand Reader Problems - Inverted Wiring on Jul 16, 2019
Wiegand is the dominant method of connecting access readers, but problems can arise for installers. In fact, one of the most difficult reader...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact