Australia to remove Chinese cameras from defense sites over concerns
Australia has taken the decision to remove any and all CCTV cameras that are made in China in sensitive defense sites.
The Australian Department of Defense will strip its buildings of Chinese-made security cameras to ensure their full security, the government said Thursday.
This comes after the United States and the United Kingdom took such measures to stop government departments from installing Chinese-made cameras at sensitive sites.
Both Washington and London have been claiming that they were afraid that Chinese firms would be forced into sharing information obtained via their cameras with the Chinese government.
UK Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden told members of parliament in late November that the UK government departments had been instructed not to install Chinese-manufactured surveillance cameras in "sensitive" government locations, British newspaper The Independent reported.
"Departments have therefore been instructed to cease deployment of such equipment on to sensitive sites, where it is produced by companies subject to the national intelligence law of the People’s Republic of China," Dowden said.
Following a thorough review of present and future threats conducted by the UK Government Security Group regarding the use of Chinese surveillance cameras in government buildings, the agency concluded that "additional controls are required."
Days earlier, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak claimed that China was a systemic threat to UK values and the "most state-based threat to our economic security," adding that Britain will consider supplying weaponry to Taiwan.
Moreover, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) banned a day later equipment authorizations for video surveillance equipment or telecoms manufactured by Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE, calling them "a threat to national security."
The official Report and Order from the FCC read: "The actions we take today in adopting new rules and procedures comply with Congress’s directive in the Secure Equipment Act of 2021 to prohibit authorization of 'covered' equipment on the Covered List within one year of that Act’s enactment and lay the foundation to prohibit the authorization of any additional “covered” equipment that may be added to the Covered List based on a determination that such equipment poses an unacceptable risk to national security."
Consequently, the Report and Order noted its ban of all "telecommunications and video surveillance equipment produced by Huawei and ZTE (and that of their subsidiaries and affiliates)."
According to the order, the restriction builds on efforts by the Commission, Congress, and the Biden administration to take unprecedented action as they continue to pressure China and challenge the One China policy.
The decision taken by Canberra prompted Beijing to accuse Australia of "misusing national might to discriminate against and suppress Chinese enterprises", calling on Canberra to ensure "fair" treatment for its businesses in the country.
At least 913 Chinese-made cameras have been installed across more than 250 Australian government buildings, according to official figures compiled by opposition politician James Paterson.
Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said officials would hunt down and remove all Chinese-made security cameras within the department's buildings.
"It's a significant thing that's been brought to our attention and we're going to fix it," he told national broadcaster ABC. "It's important that we go through this exercise and make sure that our facilities are completely secure."
In the United States, Hytera, Hikvision, and Dahua also face a prohibited authorization until the FCC "approves these entities’ plans and measures that will ensure that such equipment will not be marketed and sold to for “the purpose of public safety, security of government facilities, physical surveillance of critical infrastructure, or other national security purposes.”
The order signed by the FCC says the restriction builds on efforts by the Commission, Congress, and the Biden administration to take unprecedented action as they continue to pressure China and challenge the One China policy.
Hikvision said it was "categorically false" to paint the company as "a threat to national security," adding that "no respected technical institution or assessment has come to this conclusion."
The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to the Australian decree, saying: "We hope Australia will provide a fair, just, and nondiscriminatory environment for the normal operations of Chinese enterprises."
"We oppose any wrong action of stretching the concept of national security and misusing national might to discriminate against and suppress Chinese enterprises," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.