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Anjani Trivedi

Sanctions Threaten to Shoot Down China’s Spyware Star

A rare homegrown global leader runs into a U.S. backlash.

China has greatly expanded surveillance in Xinjiang.

China has greatly expanded surveillance in Xinjiang.

Photographer: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. is a rare example of a Chinese national champion that’s also become a global leader. But the very ties to China’s surveillance state that powered the company’s rise now threaten to check its progress.

Hikvision’s footprint has grown in tandem with China’s political agenda. Its cameras dot the western region of Xinjiang, where the government has greatly expanded its security apparatus and faces accusations of human rights abuses. The U.S. is now considering sanctions against companies and Chinese officials over Beijing’s detention of thousands of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in internment camps, the New York Times reported Sept. 10, citing American officials. It’s already banned government agencies from buying Hikvision products. The company’s shares tanked 8 percent in Shenzhen last week, bringing their decline this year to 29 percent.