England, on November 24, directed government buildings to take off China-made surveillance systems as a precaution for security. 

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden wrote in a statement that the move followed a security review, which concluded that further restrictions are needed.

Dowden said, “Since security considerations are always paramount around these sites, we are taking action now to prevent any security risks materializing.”

Government departments have been told to uninstall existing devices exposed to China’s national intelligence law. They are also warned to cut such equipment from connections to core networks. 

UK’s latest measure targets primarily “sensitive sites,” but other locations have also been advised to follow suit. According to the BBC, a spokeswoman for the prime minister said this is only a preventative step as the matter is constantly under review.

Under China’s National Intelligence Law, individuals and organizations are required by law to facilitate state intelligence operations. The Diplomatist calls it a policy to make “spying” a legal obligation.

Chancellor Dowden’s statement did not specify any Chinese manufacturer, but the Commons foreign affairs committee has previously sought to block the use of China’s Hikvision and Dahua. Like other Chinese peers, their products have allegedly been used in detention camps in Xinjiang.

Hikvision has refused that it would violate or compromise UK data, calling the concerns “categorically false.”

The Financial Times reports that Hikvision and Dahua were both blacklisted by Washington in 2019, citing concerns that both had facilitated China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang. In 2021, the European Parliament removed the Hikvision thermal cameras over suspicion of assistance to Beijing in violating human rights in Xinjiang.

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