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EU using thermal cameras by Chinese firm suspected of spying on Uighurs: report

The US has blacklisted Hikvision for links to the Chinese government's oppression of Uighurs [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 October, 2020

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Thermal cameras manufactured by Hikvision, a firm blacklisted by the US for alleged links to Chinese Uighur surveillance, are reportedly being used at the entrances of the European Parliament.
The European Union is using thermal cameras produced by Chinese firm Hikvision to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, despite the company being accused of spying on Uighur Muslims held in China's detention camps, a DW investigation found.

The German outlet's investigation found that officials at European Parliament and Commission acquired the thermal imaging cameras that can detect a fever - a common symptom of Covid-19 - from a distance.

Despite growing evidence of the firm's links to China's oppression of its Uighur population, two European Commission staffers, speaking to DW on condition of anonymity, said the EU's executive arm will bring in more of the screening equipment.

According to a January report by the Norwegian government's Council On Ethics, Hikvision signed five security and surveillance contracts with Xinjiang authorities in 2017.

Tech giant Hikvision was blacklisted - along with 27 other Chinese firms - last year by US President Donald Trump's administration over concerns their technology might pose a threat to national security.

The Trump administration has claimed the firm has been "implicated" in China's crackdown on its Muslim communities, including Uighurs and Kazakhs.

Beijing has voiced its "strong dissatisfaction" with US sanctions and has repeatedly denied documented reports of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Read also: US senators seek to declare China 'genocide' against Uighurs

Hikvision is the world's largest seller of surveillance equipment, employing 34,000 people worldwide. It has grown substantially as a result of Beijing's surveillance of its own population, especially in its northwestern Xinjiang region.

Rights groups say some one million Uighurs and other Muslims are being held in a vast network of camps in Xinjiang province, aimed at homogenising the population into China's majority Han culture.

Witnesses say that China has sought to force Uighurs to drop core practices of Islam such as fasting during Ramadan and abstaining from alcohol and pork.

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