China Selling Surveillance Tech To Nations Trying To Spy On Their Own People

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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The Chinese tech company Huawei has been selling high-tech surveillance systems to countries looking to tamp down on civil unrest, but critics say the equipment drastically limits personal freedom.

The Serbian government installed the Chinese camera system in its capital of Belgrade, in the midst of wide-spread protests in the city. The cameras are equipped with facial recognition technology that allows law enforcement to identify and track residents, incentivizing many protesters to go home, according to the Associated Press. The camera system has seen extensive use in China, especially against Hong Kong protesters and Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

“We don’t want to be in some kind of Big Brother society,” rights activist Ivana Markulic told the AP. “We are asking: Where are the cameras, where are they hidden, how much did we pay for them and what’s going to happen with information collected after this surveillance?”

In this picture taken on August 25, 2019, Nick, 20, (C) holds metal cooking tongs as he waits for police to fire more tear gas rounds, shortly after he became seperated from his girlfriend Abby, 19, during a protest in Tsuen Wan, an area in the New Territories in Hong Kong. / ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images

In this picture taken on August 25, 2019, Nick, 20, (C) holds metal cooking tongs as he waits for police to fire more tear gas rounds. (ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

Serbian police have already installed hundreds of cameras across the city, and they plan to install a total of 1,000 to monitor roughly 800 locations. The Serbian system mirrors sales Huawei made to Uganda as well. (RELATED: What Do Hong Kong Protesters Think Of LeBron James)

The AP reported:

Huawei said in an emailed statement that it “complies with all applicable laws and regulations in our countries of business. This is the most fundamental principle of our business operations. We are dedicated to bringing people better connectivity, eliminating digital gaps, and promoting the sustainable development of our societies and economies.”

China’s use of the facial recognition system has led Hong Kong protesters to use umbrellas and masks to cover their faces. Meanwhile, the Communist Party has instituted a ban on wearing masks. (RELATED: Hong Kong Demonstration Draws Crowd Of 1.7 Million)

American companies have also proven willing to work with China to minimize the impact of the protests, with the NBA kowtowing when a team manager expressed support for the protesters, and Google and Apple removing an app that was allowing the protesters to track police movements.