Sensitive UK government sites are set to remove Chinese surveillance cameras in response to national security concerns relating to China. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak highlighted China as the “biggest challenge” to global security and prosperity during the G7 summit last month. The government will release a timeline for the removal of equipment produced by companies governed by China’s National Intelligence Law.
The statement from the government said, “By committing to this timeline, we are providing reassurance and urgency around the removal plans.” Although specific surveillance camera companies have not been named, the UK has previously demanded sanctions on the sale and use of cameras produced by Hikvision and Dahua, two partially state-owned Chinese firms, due to privacy concerns and their alleged involvement in human rights abuses in China.
Beijing has expressed its firm opposition to using national security as a reason to hinder Chinese companies in the UK. A spokesperson for the UK’s Chinese Embassy stated, “The Chinese government has always encouraged Chinese companies to conduct international investment and co-operation in accordance with market principles, international rules and local laws.” The spokesperson urged the UK to cease political manipulation and provide a fair, just, and non-discriminatory environment for the normal operation of Chinese companies in the UK.
Hikvision, a manufacturer of security equipment, commented: “We believe that the possible action by the UK government is a further step up of the mounting geopolitical tensions being expressed through technology bans, which by no means relates to the security of Hikvision’s products.”
In addition to the government’s actions, three of the UK’s largest supermarkets, including Morrisons and Tesco, have banned Chinese CCTV cameras from their stores due to security and ethical concerns. Earlier this year, the government suspended the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok from its phones, and in 2020, it announced plans to ban Huawei from its 5G network.
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