Tiandy PRC China Surveillance Giant - Tiger Chairs, Uyghur Tracking And Party Loyalty
While Tiandy is mostly unknown outside of China (PRC), even within the physical security industry, it is already one of the largest companies, leveraging massive PRC police projects, selling intelligent management of tiger chairs regularly used for torture, and offering Uyghur tracking and minority estimation.
Meanwhile, Tiandy's founder / CEO is the company's Party Secretary, was a Party Congress member, holds PLA-style military drills for Tiandy employees, and celebrated the Party's anniversary this month imploring his company to follow the lead of the Party.
UPDATE 7/22: Intel told IPVM it "will look into" its Tiandy NVR partnership due to the human rights concerns raised by this article. For more, read the end of this article.
Overview of Tiandy
Tiandy reported 2019 sales of ~$620 million, making it one of the biggest surveillance companies globally. Tiandy more than doubled from 2015 and plans to triple sales to $2 billion in 2025. The company is over 95% owned by its founder Dai Lin and is not publicly traded.
Tiandy is based in Tianjin, Northern China, unlike its main competitors who are primarily based either in Hanghzhou or Shenzhen.
Tiandy reports branches in ~60 countries and while it does not break out domestic vs overseas, IPVM estimates that Tiandy's revenue is overwhelmingly from inside the PRC as it has a relatively small presence in the Americas and EMEA. The most notable Western OEM customer we found was USA's Snap One / AV, who is preparing to IPO.
Tiandy did not respond to IPVM's repeated comment requests but deleted evidence of its "smart interrogation tables" after we reached out.
Uyghur Tracking In SDK
Tiandy's publicly-available SDK, dated July 2020, has "race" analytics including "the Uygurs" plus Han vs 'minority' detection:
Another part of the SDK mentions "Uighur" face attribute detection as well:
Tiandy's SDK even includes an ethnic minority estimator, determining whether someone is an ethnic minority on a scale of 0-100 (above 50 is an ethnic minority):
Uyghur tracking is widely deployed across PRC police security camera networks to alert whenever a Uyghur-looking face is detected. Dahua, Hikvision, and Uniview have all been caught mentioning Uyghur analytics in their products/code.
Touts Ethnicity Detection In Camera Specs
Several Tiandy cameras on its website tout ethnicity analytics e.g. a 4K camera "Supports face detection [statistics] based on age, gender, number of people, and ethnicity of faces", while a 5MP face recognition camera also "supports [...] ethnicity of faces" while adding "age and ethnicity statistics are imprecise", and a 2MP dome camera has "facial attributes detection" including "ethnicity".
Tiger Chair 'Smart Interrogation Table' Integration
In PRC prisons, detainees are restrained in devices known as 'tiger chairs' which are often used for torture according to Human Rights Watch, stating in a 2015 report that prisoners are sometimes kept inside them for "days":
former detainees say that police often strap them into these metal chairs for hours and even days, depriving detainees of sleep, and immobilizing them until their legs and buttocks were swollen
Tiandy has a custom 'one stop shop' police solution called the Tiandy Law Enforcement and Case Handling Management Center (天地伟业执法办案管理中心 ) which includes a 'smart interrogation table' (智能审讯一体桌) set up with tiger chairs, as mentioned in this post about an integration for Dezhou City Police from April 2021:
The intelligent interrogation table is a multi-functional interrogation device that integrates a series of peripheral devices used in the interrogation process to avoid clutter and reduce security risks; it integrates a touch-screen central control system, electronic evidence, and transcript verification. One-click control, which simplifies the complicated procedures of case-handling personnel's inquiries and improves the efficiency of case handling. [emphasis added]
Another Tiandy post from May 2021 about Hai'an City police deal also touts an "intelligent interrogation table" which "greatly improves the efficiency of interrogation":
the interrogation/interrogation room is equipped with an intelligent interrogation table, which integrates all interrogation services. Through the touch screen, applications such as one-click interrogation, electronic evidence display, transcript proofreading, and equipment opening can be realized, which greatly improves the efficiency of interrogation. [emphasis added]
Another example from a Tiandy deal with Baotou Police in August 2020 shows several setups, with one screen appearing to show a prisoner behind bars:
PRC police paid an integrator about $10,000 for each 'smart interrogation table' in April 2020, procurement documents show. According to specs posted by an integrator, the table includes audio and video capabilities to record interrogation sessions along with a microphone to read detainees their rights and relevant laws; part of its appeal is "reducing clutter" in the interrogation room to "reduce potential safety hazards."
Deletes Evidence, No Response
While Tiandy did not respond to IPVM's comment requests, soon after, all of the above links were deleted. (IPVM archived them in advance).
Numerous PRC Police Deals
On its China website, Tiandy touts selling and installing integrated police security solutions for numerous PRC police/court systems:
- Tiandi Weiye assisted Aba's state-wide public security organs' law enforcement standardization construction promotion meeting successfully held
- Tiandi Weiye assists Nanyang City Prosecutors with public hearings
- Tiandi Weiye assists Jiangning Public Security in creating a new “growth point” for the standardized construction of law enforcement
- Tiandi Weiye assists Baotou Public Security Bureau's Law Enforcement and Case Handling Management Center to upgrade files and upgrade construction
- Tiandi Weiye won the bid for the law enforcement supervision and management platform of the Shandong Provincial Public Security Department
- Tiandi Weiye helps Hainan Public Security to improve the level of rule of law
- Judicial aid warms people's hearts, Tiandi Weiye helps public hearings
- Liu Zhengqiang from the Legal Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security and his team investigated the model of Tiandi Weiye Law Enforcement and Case Handling Management Center
- Tiandi Weiye assists Qinghai Public Security in creating a first-class intelligent law enforcement case handling management center in Northwest China [Tibet]
- Tiandi Weiye assists Liuhe Public Security to build a one-stop law enforcement case handling management center
Tiandy Founder Party Secretary, Celebrates Party Anniversary
Tiandy's billionaire CEO, Dai Lin, is the chair of his company's Party Committee (like Dahua's billionaire CEO Fu Liquan) and celebrated the 100th anniversary of the CPC earlier this month with a trip to Xibaipo, the former CPC headquarters and residence of Mao, according to a Tiandy WeChat post:
Dai Lin, Secretary of the Party Committee and Chairman of Tiandi Weiye, emphasized that it is necessary to maintain the Party’s fine traditions and style, "struggle hard and work for the people", inherit the red revolutionary spirit of Xibaipo, keep in mind and adhere to the "two musts", and dare to fight hard and dare. Win, strengthen and expand the market. In the next step, Tiandi Weiye will continue to transform the achievements of Party history learning and education into voluntary actions to promote the revolutionary spirit and inherit the red gene of the majority of employees, and transform the achievements of party history learning and education into work results and an inexhaustible driving force for the company's high-quality development. [emphasis added]
Describing the CPC's birthday as "magnificent", Dai Lin and cadres of Tiandy's Party Committee carried out activities with themes including "follow the Party":
The hundred-year journey [of the CPC] has been magnificent, and the heart will grow stronger at the beginning of the century. Recently, a team led by party secretary and chairman Dai Lin, party members and cadres of the Tiandi Weiye Company’s party committee, and party activists went to the sacred place of revolution Xibaipo to carry out the theme party day activities of "Don’t forget the original intention to follow the Party and stand up for the vanguard". It aims to further deepen the study and education of party history and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. [emphasis added]
Dai Lin was pictured below wearing a Communist Party pin:
Dai Lin was also pictured in front of a CPC banner proclaiming "follow the Party's lead":
[top] Warmly Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the CPC - Tiandy Party-Themed Activity [bottom] Never Forget The Original Aspiration And Follow The Lead Of The Party; Be Brave And Become A Pioneer; Warmly Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the CPC - Tiandy Party-Themed Activity
Tiandy's own timeline boasts of several Party awards and confirms Dai Lin's Party Committee status.
Tiandy Founder 'Votes' For Xi Jinping
Dai Lin attended the 2012 Congress of the CPC as one of 2,270 delegates where he voted for Xi Jinping as General Secretary of the CPC, the Party's highest position, he told Xi during a 2013 Xi visit to Tiandy's headquarters:
Hello General Secretary, I once voted for you, I was a representative of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China
Dai Lin's 'vote' was indirect, since delegates like him voted to approve a new Central Committee, which in turn elected the Politburo Standing Committee with Xi at its helm. CPC Congress vote results are not public and involve an opaque process described by Princeton political science professor Wu Guongang as "authoritarian legitimization" and "a strange combination of political hollowness and institutional holiness".
Tiandy's website has a special webpage dedicated to Dai Lin's encounters with over two dozen senior Party officials, with Xi at the top:
Tiandy Xinjiang Presence
Tiandy has a Xinjiang office in Urumqi with ~40 employees (a fraction of Hikvision's), with Tiandy touting its work helping Xinjiang's "safety and stability maintenance" and installations in "safe cities, roads, hotels, courts, mosques". Tiandy Xinjiang also touts an "interrogation solution" (with no mention of tiger chairs) noting it has been applied all over the PRC, including police and courts in Xinjiang.
While IPVM could find no public evidence of large Xinjiang police deals, in recent months Tiandy has posted job listings for police, military, and court-related staff in Xinjiang:
- Senior Sales Director For Xinjiang Prosecution Industry which requires "experience in sales of related projects for the prosecutor's office and courts in Xinjiang"
- Supervisor for Xinjiang "regional public security [police], prosecutor's offices, and legal departments"
- Three "Political And Legal" sector business managers, two Smart Industry business managers and one Technical Support Engineer
In 2014, Tiandy held a training session for IT staff of Xinjiang prosecutor's offices:
[Training For All IT Professionals Across All Prosecutor's Offices In Xinjiang]
Tiandy also posted an undated photo of Dai Lin shaking hands with Wang Junzheng, the deputy Party Secretary of Xinjiang who was sanctioned three months ago by the US government for human rights abuses:
PLA-Style Parades With "Comrade Dai Lin"
Tiandy does military parades in the "revolutionary spirit" of the PLA with new employees, making them drill in uniform with PLA assault rifles all supervised by "comrade Dai Lin", for example in 2020:
The 2020 members of the Tiandi Weiye Cadre Reserve Class are also displayed in this excellent team of more than 100 people. They are dressed in green camouflage, have uniform actions and high-pitched slogans. They accepted Comrade Dai Lin, Secretary of the Party Committee and chairman of the Tiandi Weiye Company. As well as the review by company leaders and head office employee representatives.
In the scorching sun, they faded from their immaturity and youthfulness and went into battle in military uniforms, starting a 12-day rigorous and serious military training career. After many tests under harsh environments such as high temperature and heavy rain, the military training parade finally ushered in.
They used their resolute eyes to confirm the revolutionary spirit of the People’s Liberation Army; they used the iron man-like standing under the scorching sun to confirm the iron will of the great talents of heaven and earth; they used the most powerful footsteps in the history of the military training of heaven and earth to confirm that this is a military force. A team of heroes to count on! [emphasis added]
Benefits For Tiandy Inside PRC
Tiandy's strong relationship with the Party and provision of technology to support the Party is clearly beneficial for its growth within the PRC.
Risks For Tiandy Overseas
These strengths within the PRC could be weaknesses outside. Tiandy does market outside China but is relatively limited. We do not know why Tiandy does not more aggressively market outside of China. For comparison, while Tiandy and Uniview's total revenue are similiar, Uniview generates far more revenue in the Americas and Europe than Tiandy, and Uniview spends far more effort growing its overseas business.
On the plus side for Tiandy, unlike Dahua, Hikvision, and Huawei, Tiandy faces no sanctions or restrictions in operating in the US. However, once the overseas public becomes familiar with its PRC operations, similar concerns would likely be raised of Tiandy.
What Tiandy Shows About PRC Manufacturers
IPVM has extensively documented Hikvision and Dahua's Uyghur tracking and their close ties to the PRC police and Party.
Tiandy shows that such issues are not limited to the largest, well-known, PRC companies. And with ongoing efforts to delete and hide evidence (as Tiandy did with their tiger chair management system), it is becoming harder to know the full extent of any PRC companies' participation.
UPDATE: Intel "Will Look Into" Tiandy NVR Partnership
Update: Tiandy is listed as an Intel partner for its "Super NVR which is "designed for expansive projects that require a larger number of cameras than usual". IPVM sent this article to Intel, outlining the human rights concerns around Tiandy. An Intel spokesperson told IPVM it "will look into this matter" while underlining that Intel "will restrict or cease business" with third parties "unless we have high confidence that Intel’s products are not being used to violate human rights":
We will look into this matter. While we do not always know nor can we control what products our customers create or the applications end-users may develop, Intel does not support or tolerate our products being used to violate human rights. Where we become aware of a concern that Intel products are being used by a business partner in connection with abuses of human rights, we will restrict or cease business with the third party until and unless we have high confidence that Intel’s products are not being used to violate human rights.
IPVM will update when Intel is done looking into this partnership.
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