In an effort to address national security apprehensions associated with China, the United Kingdom has committed to removing Chinese-made surveillance equipment from sensitive government locations.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who considers China as the foremost challenge to security and prosperity worldwide, the government instructed its departments last year to cease the installation of Chinese-affiliated surveillance cameras at sensitive buildings. In a recent announcement outlining proposed enhancements to procurement regulations, the government stated:
“We will also pledge to publish a timeline for the elimination of surveillance equipment manufactured by companies subject to China’s National Intelligence Law from sensitive central government sites.”
By establishing this timeline, the government aims to provide reassurance and urgency regarding the removal plans. The statement did not explicitly mention any specific companies.
Concerns over privacy and the potential association of these companies’ products with human rights abuses in China have led British lawmakers to advocate for a ban on security cameras manufactured by Hikvision and Dahua, both of which are partially state-owned Chinese firms.
In response, Hikvision issued a statement asserting, “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.”
Beijing has expressed firm opposition to the broadening of the national security concept to suppress Chinese enterprises. A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Britain emphasized that the Chinese government consistently encourages Chinese companies to engage in international investment and cooperation in accordance with market principles, international rules, and local laws. The spokesperson urged the UK to refrain from political manipulation and to provide a fair, just, and non-discriminatory environment for the normal operations of Chinese companies in the country.
Previously, the UK barred TikTok from government phones in March of this year and announced its intention to ban Huawei from its 5G network in 2020. Similarly, certain U.S. states have implemented bans on vendors and products from various Chinese technology companies.