Chinese video surveillance firm Hikvision denies Xinjiang charges, asks for fair treatment from the US
Published: May 22, 2019 01:38 PM
Chinese video surveillance equipment provider Hikvision on Wednesday denied accusations of any wrongdoing in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and asked for fair treatment from US officials, as the US was reportedly considering blacklisting the Chinese firm.

"Hikvision is a product supplier. We have never done any inappropriate actions in Xinjiang," the company said in a statement to the Global Times. "We have never and would never conduct business operations that are based on the condition of violating human rights."

Hikvision also said that it has hired professionals from the US to conduct an independent review of the company's operations in Xinjiang and will respond to foreign and domestic concerns when they have gathered full evidence.

In what could be a further escalation in the trade and technology war between China and the US, the latter was considering placing Hikvision on a blacklist that would effectively bar US companies from supplying components to the Chinese firm, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The US has taken similar actions against Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

Following the report, Hikvision's share prices tumbled on Wednesday morning, opening more than 9 percent lower before regaining some ground. Shortly before noon, Hikvision stocks were down 4.38 percent.

The company said that while it noticed the report, it has not received formal notice from the US government and business operations were unaffected. 

Even if the US went ahead with the ban, it would not have a huge impact on the company's operations, as the US accounts for only 6 percent of the company's revenue, an employee at Hikvision was cited by as saying. Another employee said that even if the US cut chip supplies, it would not impact the company because most of its chip suppliers are in China, according to the 21st Century Business Herald.

In the statement to the Global Times, Hikvision also asked for fair treatment from the US, saying that "we hope that the company will receive fair and just treatment."

The New York Times report, which cited unnamed sources, was vague on specifics, including why exactly the US administration was considering such a step. Hinting possible motivations behind the potential move by the US, the report shifted between the ongoing efforts by the US to contain China's technological rise and US actions against Chinese companies based on unsubstantiated claims that the company helped to target Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

Pushing back against foreign media's claims that China was conducting surveillance in Xinjiang, Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry, said in December 2018 that such reports were "false and fictional" and characterized China's anti-terrorism and  de-extremism efforts as actions targeting Uyghurs or Muslims.

She further pointed out installing surveillance facilities is a common practice for countries to maintain security and stability, noting that there are massive surveillance operations in New York and London, and called Western criticism of China's practice "obvious double standards."

US officials and media outlets, including the New York Times, have been peddling accusations against China's policy in Xinjiang that have been vehemently denied by Chinese officials. But if the US is aiming to sanction Hikvision for its business in Xinjiang, it could potentially escalate the trade and technology battle to much more serious levels, as such actions would be considered meddling in China's internal affairs and a challenge to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

China has repeatedly urged the US to respect the facts, abandon bias, exercise prudence in words and deeds regarding Xinjiang, and stop interfering in China's domestic affairs.