A new report supported by Top10VPN’s Digital Rights Research Grant reveals the global proliferation of Huawei’s surveillance technology and the U.S. companies whose products continue to be used by Chinese police departments.
The findings show that despite efforts to decouple the two countries’ tech sectors, American products continue to play a vital role in China’s digital surveillance program, the Golden Shield.
The report also demonstrates that despite increased international pressure, Chinese companies, including Huawei, continue to enjoy lucrative international commercial opportunities.
The researchers identified almost 2,000 Huawei middleboxes in 69 countries via network measurement analysis. The products are capable of monitoring people’s internet activity and blocking access to certain websites.
In 17 countries, Huawei middleboxes were found to be blocking content, including an LGBTQI+ website in Oman and a domestic radio station in Burundi.
Products made by at least seven U.S. companies continue to be used by Chinese state actors, including Intel core processors which are “likely being used for surveillance purposes” in Xinjiang.
Meanwhile, at least 14 Chinese companies involved in China’s Golden Shield Project continue to operate internationally. Beijing Zhongke Fuxing Information Technology Co Ltd., for example, has completed several surveillance-related projects in Xinjiang. Despite this, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, HP, and Oracle are still listed as their commercial partners.
The researchers note that unless the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has secretely ordered companies to remove the backdoors that must be built into their software domestically, some of these exports could be used to access and monitor the data of people internationally.
As pressure on the CCP continues to rise, this research sheds light on the companies that continue to play a role in the construction of China’s surveillance state. It also shows that despite this pressure, Chinese tech firms implicated in domestic surveillance continue to enjoy lucrative commercial partnerships abroad.
Download the full report, China’s Surveillance State: A Global Project