Huawei is a market leader in Chinese exports of AI surveillance technology having sold it to at least 50 countries, many of which have dismal human rights record.
According to a report by a pro-US think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, "technology linked to Chinese companies -- particularly Huawei, Hikvision, Dahua and ZTE -- supply AI surveillance technology in 63 countries, 36 of which have signed onto China's Belt and Road Initiative," it said.
Chinese product pitches are often accompanied by soft loans to encourage governments to purchase their equipment. This raises troubling questions about the extent to which the Chinese government is subsidizing the purchase of advanced repressive technology, Mainichi reported, citing the document.
Some see this as China’s attempt to get more countries in Asia, Africa and Europe deeper into Beijing's economic orbit.
The technology involving facial recognition systems is reportedly used to crack down on Uyghurs and other minorities, as per an investigative report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on the country's surveillance and predictive-policing system. This has garnered international condemnation and has bestowed upon China the infamy of being a global driver of “authoritarian tech."
Japan's NEC Corp and US' IBM also reportedly supply AI surveillance technology to 14 and 11 countries respectively. Other countries like France, Germany, Israel, and Japan are also playing important roles in proliferating this technology but are not taking adequate steps to monitor and control the spread of sophisticated technologies linked to a range of violations, the report said.