Britain has announced the removal of Chinese-made surveillance equipment from sensitive government sites as part of plans to address concerns they could be used for spying by China.
The government told its departments last year to stop installing Chinese-linked CCTV cameras in sensitive buildings.
In an announcement about a tightening of procurement rules, the Cabinet Office said: “We will also commit to publish a timeline for the removal of surveillance equipment produced by companies subject to China’s National Intelligence Law from sensitive central government sites.”
The statement did not name specific companies but MPs have previously called for a ban on the sale and use of security cameras made by Hikvision and Dahua, two partly state-owned Chinese firms, over privacy concerns about their products being linked to human rights abuses in China. Prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has cast China as the world’s greatest challenge to security and prosperity.
Hikvision said in a statement: “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 said it “firmly opposes” overstretching the concept of national security to suppress Chinese enterprises.
A statement from the Chinese embassy in Britain said: “The Chinese government has always encouraged Chinese companies to conduct international investment and cooperation in accordance with market principles, international rules and local laws.
“We urge the UK side to stop political manipulation and provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for the normal operation of Chinese companies in the UK.”
Britain banned TikTok on government phones in March this year, while in 2020 it said it would ban Huawei from its 5G network. Some US states have banned vendors and products from several Chinese technology companies.
Staff and agencies
Published: 2023-06-08 00:00:45