Tesco to phase out surveillance cameras in China over security and human rights concerns

Britain’s largest supermarket chain Tesco has announced it will remove Chinese-made surveillance cameras from its stores, heeding warnings from human rights groups that they pose serious security and ethical risks.

Tesco has responded to a request from campaign groups Big Brother Watch, Hong Kong Watch, Stop Uyghur Genocide and Free Tibet to supermarket chains to remove CCTV cameras made by Chinese companies Hikvision and Dahua from their stores. clarified this decision.

In a letter dated February 22, the group said the Chinese companies “are involved in serious human rights abuses and are linked to serious security issues.”

“These companies provide technology that facilitates the persecution and repression of ethnic and religious groups in the Uighur region (‘Xinjiang’), Tibet and Hong Kong, and have no place in the UK,” they said. .

“These cameras also raise significant security concerns given their ties to the Chinese state and their history of security flaws,” the letter said. It’s important not to invest in rights and exploit technology.”

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A photo shows a sign for a Tesco branch in London on 27th January 2017. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images)

Tesco Chief Executive Officer Jason Talley responded in a letter dated March 16: When we became aware of the allegations related to Hikvision and Dahua, we immediately took action to identify alternative suppliers.

“While we recognize the seriousness of these allegations, due to the size and complexity of our business and our responsibility to maintain the safety and security of our stores, it will be some time before we are able to replace all of our equipment. I can confirm that we are currently in the process of transitioning to a new supplier.

“Having a robust security system in place, especially body cameras, is essential to ensuring the safety of our customers, but is also key to our program to reduce abuse and assault of Tesco colleagues in our stores. Ensuring the safety of our customers is our first responsibility as an employer and we take it very seriously, and we are keeping this in mind as we transition to alternative security equipment in our stores.”

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Hikvision cameras in an electronic mall in Beijing on May 24, 2019. (Fred Dufour/AFP via Getty Images)


Both Hikvision and Dahua were ultimately ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Blacklisted by the US Department of Commerce in 2019 For its involvement in enabling human rights violations and abuses through the use of high-tech surveillance against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and members of other Muslim minority groups in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

Fraser Sampson, Commissioner of Biometrics and Surveillance Cameras, UK Surveillance Authority, has repeatedly expressed concerns about the use of Hikvision and Dahua in the UK, including security risks and human rights impacts.

The UK government last year told ministries to stop installing new Chinese surveillance cameras on sensitive sites (citing security considerations) and replace existing ones before maintenance schedules. and advised to do the same for non-sensitive sites.

Principality of Lancaster Oliver Dowden said manufacturers are subject to China’s national intelligence law, a law that requires all organizations and citizens to “help, assist and cooperate in national intelligence efforts”. said.

“Always follow the party”

Hikvision’s controlling shareholder is China Electronics Technology HIK Group, a subsidiary of the state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corp. (CETC), one of China’s “Big Ten” state-owned military industrial groups.

Hikvision’s Sina Finance feature says the company was founded under the auspices of CETC’s 52nd Institute to turn a profit after “the 9/11 terrorist attacks shocked the global security and surveillance market.” it was done.

Dahua’s founder and largest shareholder, Fu Lihua, is also the company’s CCP secretary.

According to a feature report on Fu, before founding Dahua, he was assigned to work in electronics at Tongda, a military-owned factory, after graduating from college.

In a speech at a Communist Party of China event in 2018, Fu said the company was armed with CCP President Xi Jinping’s “new socialism with Chinese characteristics,” and that it “always follows the party.” He vowed to contribute to the Chinese dream together with Dahua.

Conor Healy, director of government research for IPVM, a security and surveillance industry research group, previously told the Epoch Times that the use of Hikvision and Dahua’s equipment poses “pretty significant” security risks. He also argued that companies providing custom-designed surveillance systems to Chinese authorities are “directly responsible” for the scale of human rights violations in Xinjiang.

A recent investigation by IPVM found that Hikvision raised alarms to help the Chinese government track protesters and Falun Gong supporters. Falun Gong is a spiritual practice based on the tenets of honesty, compassion and tolerance that is severely persecuted by the Chinese government.

According to another IPVM study, Dahua surveillance cameras can identify Uyghurs in crowds and issue “Uyghur warnings” to CCP police.

The Epoch Times has reached out to Hikvision and Dahua for comment.

Lily Zhou contributed to this report.