UK pledges to withdraw Chinese-made surveillance equipment from government sites

Government commits to removing Chinese-manufactured surveillance equipment from sensitive government sites in response to national security concerns linked to China.
Shubhangi Dua
Rishi Sunak.jpg
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak talks to the media during his visit to Washington DC.

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The UK government pledges to eliminate the use of Chinese-made surveillance equipment from vulnerable government sectors to protect national security. 

The announcement comes after UK PM Rishi Sunak highlighted concerns against China at a press conference after the G7 leaders' summit in Hiroshima on May 21. 

According to Reuters, Sunak said, “China poses the biggest challenge of our age to global security and prosperity. They are increasingly authoritarian at home and assertive abroad.”

Britain’s Prime Minister also said that China represents the world's greatest challenge to security and prosperity, but other leading economies should not seek to fully decouple from it.

Actions executed

Last year, the UK government informed departments to stop installing Chinese-linked surveillance cameras at sensitive buildings, according to Reuters.

In its commitment to tightening procurement rules, the government is setting up a new National Security Unit to investigate suppliers and creating new powers to ban suppliers from particular contracts and public procurements.

“We will commit to publishing a timeline for the removal of surveillance equipment produced by companies subject to China’s National Intelligence Law from sensitive central government sites,” said the British government.

Additionally, the government said that by committing to this timeline for removal, it would provide reassurance and urgency for the plans.

Banning Chinese companies

Beijing believes that Britain is overstretching the concept of national security to suppress Chinese enterprises, and they firmly oppose the actions taken against them.

The UK banned using TikTok, on government devices in March. While some US states have banned several vendors and products from Chinese technology companies.

Reuters journalist Muvija M reports, “British lawmakers 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 fears and concerns of the companies' products being linked to human rights abuses in China.”

Reuters said that Chinese company Hikvision responded via e-mail to the measures initiated by Britain. 

"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," said Hikvision’s spokesperson.

In its commitment to eliminate Chinese-made security equipment, the British government will propose changes to the Procurement Bill after debating it in parliament next week.

Britain’s Junior cabinet office minister Jeremy Quin said in a statement that new measures would protect UK’s sensitive sectors from companies that could threaten national security.