Huawei has helped Chinese authorities create surveillance technology that targets the country’s Uyghur minority population, an investigation has found.
A series of marketing presentation slides reviewed by the Washington Post revealed that Huawei has a role to play in developing surveillance projects created in partnership with other Chinese companies.
They included analyzing voice recordings, monitoring detention centers, tracking the locations of politicians of interest, police surveillance in the western Xinjiang region, and tracking employees and customers by the company.
While the slides do not specify who the presentations are aimed at, the report does indicate that some of them present specific oversight functions to police or government agencies, suggesting that Chinese government officials may have been the targeted audience.
Huawei said it had no knowledge of the projects mentioned in the Washington Post report. âHuawei does not develop or sell systems that target a specific group of people and we require our partners to comply with all applicable laws, regulations and business ethics,â he said in a statement. âProtecting privacy is our top priority and we require all parts of our business to comply with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries and regions where we operate. “
According to the report, numerous slides were created in 2014, months after a terrorist attack at Kunming train station that killed 31 people – a case Chinese officials often cite to justify their policies in Xinjiang. The report says some file changes were made in 2019 or 2020. The Huawei logo can be seen on many of these slides.
The report claims that Xinjiang’s surveillance projects were highlighted in several slides. Although they did not specifically mention the Uyghur ethnic minority, at least one slide claimed that Huawei’s technology helped the public security bureau in ÃrÃ¼mqi, the capital of Xinjiang, capture a number of suspects. .
The presentation said the system had been in use in ÃrÃ¼mqi since 2017 – which experts say is around the time the massive Uyghur detentions began.
In recent weeks, the United States and several of its allies have announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in response to what the Biden administration has called “crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights violations. human rights”.
The report states that a “one person, one file” facial recognition solution was co-developed by Huawei and a Beijing-based company, which was sanctioned by the US Department of Commerce in July for alleged human rights violations. man in Xinjiang.
According to the report, other presentations indicated that Huawei’s equipment was being used in surveillance camera systems in other cities, highways and detention centers in Xinjiang.
The pitch for providing analysis of the voice recordings was aimed at helping authorities examine the voice recordings for national security purposes, according to the report. In China, the term “national security” is broad. It could range from activities carried out by political dissidents to politicians in Hong Kong.
A 2018 presentation showcased the iFlytek voiceprint management platform, a product co-developed by Huawei and iFlytek, a Chinese artificial intelligence company. According to the slide, this product can identify individuals by comparing their voices to a âvoice print libraryâ.
It is not clear whether the developers of this product were involved in the collection of voiceprints. But the partner, iFlytek, was sanctioned by the United States for alleged human rights violations in 2019. The company did not respond to the Washington Post’s investigation.