U.S. might blacklist China's Hikvision over Uighur crackdown: source

WASHINGTON/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The U.S. administration is considering Huawei-like sanctions on Chinese video surveillance firm Hikvision over the country’s treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority, a person briefed on the matter said, the latest effort by the Trump administration to crack down on Chinese companies as trade friction between the world’s top two economies escalates.

FILE PHOTO: A Hikvision logo is seen at an exhibition during the World Intelligence Congress in Tianjin, China May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

Hikvision was named in a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump’s top advisers last month, signed by more than 40 lawmakers, which called for tighter U.S. export controls over China’s treatment of its Uighurs in Xinjiang in western China.

The restrictions, which according to the source are among several options being considered by the Trump administration, would severely limit Hikvision’s ability to buy U.S. technology from American companies.

The Department of Commerce declined to comment.

The United States placed Huawei Technologies on a trade blacklist last week, making it extremely difficult for U.S. firms to do business with the world’s largest telecom network gear maker, in a major escalation in the trade war.

China and the U.S. have escalated tariff increases on each other’s products after trade talks to resolve their dispute broke down, and the acrimony has intensified since Washington last week blacklisted Huawei.

In last year’s defense policy bill, signed by Trump in August, recipients of federal funding were banned from using telecommunications equipment, video recording services and networking components made by Huawei or ZTE. Also in the bill are Chinese audio-video equipment providers Hikvision, Hytera, Dahua Technology and their affiliates.

Hikvision said overnight it can ensure a steady components supply chain without U.S. help. “Even if the U.S. stops selling them to us, we can remedy this through other suppliers,” a Hikvision executive said on condition of anonymity, adding that “most of the suppliers are actually in China.”

The New York Times was first to report the possible blacklisting of Hikvision. Bloomberg, citing sources, reported the U.S. government was deliberating whether to add Hikvision, security equipment maker Zhejiang Dahua Technology and several other unidentified firms to a blacklist.

A Dahua investment department employee declined to comment.

Hikvision, with a market value of more than $37 billion, calls itself the world’s largest video surveillance gear maker.

The company’s products, including closed-circuit TV products, traffic and thermal cameras, and unmanned aerial vehicles, are used in public places across China.

China has faced growing global condemnation for setting up facilities in Xinjiang that U.N. experts describe as mass detention centres holding more than 1 million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims.

Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Additional Reporting by Rama Venkat and Philip George in Bengaluru, Michael Martina in Beijing and the Shanghai Newsroom; Writing by Chris Sanders