In its financial results for the first half of 2022, Hikvision, the Chinese state-owned surveillance company, reported a 11% decrease in net profits compared to the previous year.
Hikvision is the largest manufacturer of surveillance cameras in the world and more than a quarter of its revenue comes from its overseas business. This revenue has been hit as scrutiny of Hikvision and its link to the Chinese Communist Party and its human rights abuses has grown, with the report mentioning that “overseas market encountered negative public opinion, which impacted the Company’s stable operation.”
A transcript of an earnings call published on Hikvision’s official shareholder WeChat (Chinese language) states that in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and other countries, business expansion was disrupted by political activities and the political atmosphere.
Free Tibet has been campaigning for councils and government departments to drop Hikvision given its connection to the Chinese government and for its direct involvement in China’s oppressive policies against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims and also in Tibet. This includes cameras that can identify people based on their ethnicity and interrogation equipment that aids torture.
Along with other organisations including Big Brother Watch and Stop Uyghur Genocide, Free Tibet has confronted the company’s UK operation, trying to contact senior figures in the company by phone and visiting its headquarters, leading to Free Tibet staff twice been escorted from its premises. The company has avoided Free Tibet’s questions but did label the organisation “a fringe group”.
The pressure is not only coming from human rights groups, fringe or otherwise; the UK’s CCTV Commissioner Fraser Sampson has also requested a meeting with the Hikvision UK’s Marketing Director Justin Hollis, with no success.
Despite this aversion to scrutiny, the shareholder call contained an interesting claim: ‘Regarding Hikvision’s violation of Uyghur human rights, what is the truth? Since 2018 , no mainstream media has come to us for information or verification.”
“Hikvision may be avoiding our questions but it is increasingly clear what is going on behind the scenes”, John Jones, Campaigns, Policy and Research Manager at Free Tibet said. “The campaign is working and Hikvision’s bosses in China are scrambling to change strategy as human rights concerns hit sales.”
“We have to keep up the pressure. Getting Hikvision out of the UK will hit its bottom line, depriving it of money to invest in technology that oppresses Tibetans. The next Prime Minister has an opportunity to shut Hikvision down and stop UK taxpayers’ money flowing to Hikvision and the CCP.”
2022 had already seen several victories in the Stop Hikvision campaign, with the Department of Health and Social Care deciding that it will no longer purchase Hikvision cameras and the Department for Work and Pensions committing in June to removing all of its Hikvision cameras in the next three years.
This has been driven by thousands of actions by Free Tibet supporters, growing media coverage of our research and increased discussion of Hikvision in parliament.