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The US-China Trade War: The US Could Ban Chinese Surveillance Firm, Hikvision

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Shortly after the restrictions on Huawei, the Chinese surveillance tech firm is very likely to follow suit. In fact, shares in the said company plunged after a report that the Trump administration slammed it with a possible US export ban.

This recent move could be the US’s latest attempt to control Beijing’s tech ambitions and an extension of the US-China trade war.

The surveillance firm produces security products and surveillance cameras powered by artificial intelligence. The products are able to track people using its technology, detect an unusual behaviour, and count the number the number of people that visited a particular location at a given time. Nevertheless, Hikvision has been slammed with criticism for its surveillance deals, with the US lawmakers accusing it of having ties with the Chinese government.

The New York Times reported that the ban would affect trade between Hikvision and US tech companies. American companies may need to obtain the government’s approval before they can supply components to the Chinese firm, thereby limiting Hikvision’s ability to trade freely with the US tech firms.

Following a series of distrust and accusations by the US government, it finally placed a ban on Huawei regarding issues pertaining to national security, although it extended the trade between both countries until August 19, to enable customers trade freely and avoid a sudden disruption of activities.   

Hikvision says otherwise, because it has worked with US companies and had not had a reason to be distrusted. “Hikvision takes these concers very seriously and has engaged with the US government regarding all of this since last October. Separately, Hikvision takes cybersecurity very seriously as a company and follows all applicable laws and regulations in the markets we operate,” a company spokesperson said.

Given the sensitivity of the matter, a Hikvision executive said anonymously that they can always remedy the situation without the US. “Even if the U.S. stops selling them to us, we can remedy this through other suppliers. The chips Hikvision uses are very commercial and most of the suppliers are actually in China,” she said but added that the company was yet to be officially informed of any blacklisting.

Brokerage firm Jefferies noted that a restriction is less likely to hit Hikvision as it did Huawei because the surveillance company does not solely rely on the US companies for its artificial intelligence supplies and other critical parts, the CNN reported.   

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