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Fwd: [OS] CHINA/CSM/CT- Cisco Poised to Help China Keep an Eye on Its Citizens

Released on 2012-08-09 18:00 GMT

Email-ID 1562732
Date 2011-07-05 05:55:07
Maybe with talk of Trapwire technology and such we can provide some
insight on this. The addition of the cameras is not new, I think i had it
in the bullets sometime earlier this year.

-------- Original Message --------

Subject: [OS] CHINA/CSM/CT- Cisco Poised to Help China Keep an Eye on Its
Date: Mon, 04 Jul 2011 22:52:54 -0500
From: Sean Noonan
Reply-To: The OS List
To: The OS List

* JULY 5, 2011

Censorship Inc.
Cisco Poised to Help China Keep an Eye on Its Citizens
Read more:
By LORETTA CHAO in Beijing and DON CLARK in San Francisco
[CISCO] Getty Images

Cameras in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. U.S. firms can sell surveillance
gear in China, but not equipment that is used only for crime control.

Western companies including Cisco Systems Inc. are poised to help build an
ambitious new surveillance project in China-a citywide network of as many
as 500,000 cameras that officials say will prevent crime but that
human-rights advocates warn could target political dissent.

The system, being built in the city of Chongqing over the next two to
three years, is among the largest and most sophisticated
video-surveillance projects of its kind in China, and perhaps the world.
Dubbed "Peaceful Chongqing," it is planned to cover a half-million
intersections, neighborhoods and parks over nearly 400 square miles, an
area more than 25% larger than New York City.

The project sheds light on how Western tech companies sell their wares in
China, the Middle East and other places where there is potential for the
gear to be used for political purposes and not just safety. The products
range from Internet-censoring software to sophisticated networking gear.
China in particular has drawn criticism for treating political dissent as
a crime and has a track record of using technology to suppress it.

An examination of the Peaceful Chongqing project by The Wall Street
Journal shows Cisco is expected to supply networking equipment that is
essential to operating large and complicated surveillance systems,
according to people familiar with the deal.

The U.S. has prohibited export of crime-control products to China (for
instance, fingerprinting equipment) ever since Beijing's deadly 1989
Tiananmen Square crackdown. But the U.S. restrictions don't prohibit sale
of technologies such as cameras that can be used in many ways-to tame,
say, either traffic jams or democracy marches. This loophole troubles some
critics. There is no indication that Cisco is selling products customized
for crime control.

* Cisco Faces Lawsuits, Criticism Over Past China Activities

Western companies' pursuit of sales in China underscores a fundamental
question for businesses and policy makers alike: Should companies be held
accountable if foreign governments use their products for political

Cisco was brought in to the Chongqing project by Chinese security company
Hikvision Digital Technology Co., the project's main contractor, Hikvision
officials and others say. It is unclear whether Cisco's participation has
been finalized, although one person familiar with the matter says it is

Officials at Cisco, based in San Jose, Calif., declined to discuss its
possible involvement in detail. A company spokesman stressed that Cisco
"hasn't sold video cameras or video-surveillance solutions in any of our
public infrastructure projects in China."

The company has previously said-including in a June blog post by Cisco's
general counsel, Mark Chandler-that the company strictly abides by the
Tiananmen export controls and doesn't supply any gear to China that is
"customized in any way" to facilitate repressive uses.

View Full Image

Cisco is the world's biggest maker of networking equipment, which includes
routing and switching systems that send data between computers and connect
systems to the Internet. The company has stirred controversy in the past
for its China dealings.

The Chongqing project is also attracting interest from other U.S.
companies, including Alabama software maker Intergraph Corp.
Hewlett-Packard Co. also expects to bid on part of the project, according
to a senior H-P executive.

The people familiar with the matter said H-P may be looking to supply
servers or storage equipment for Peaceful Chongqing.

Asked about concerns about political use of the system, Todd Bradley, an
executive vice president who oversees H-P's China strategy, said in an
interview last week in China, "We take them at their word as to the
usage." He added, "It's not my job to really understand what they're going
to use it for. Our job is to respond to the bid that they've made."
Censorship Inc.

* Mideast Uses Western Tools to Battle the Skype Rebellion 6/1/2011
* Iran Vows to Unplug Internet 5/28/2011
* U.S. Products Help Block Mideast Web 3/28/2011

Another possible participant in the Chongqing project is Intergraph, a
Huntsville, Ala., company that made a bid through Cisco to provide
customized software for the effort, said Bob Scott, head of Intergraph's
security group. It is unclear if the company, a unit of Sweden's Hexagon
AB, will ultimately be hired.

Although sale of surveillance technology to repressive nations is
permissible, some critics have harsh words for companies that do so. "The
business community is only hearing what it wants to hear and disregarding
the rest," said Rep. Frank Wolf, a Virginia Republican who co-chairs the
Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a nonpartisan rights group made up of
members of Congress.

Chongqing, a sprawling metropolis in southwestern China, is one of the
most populous cities in the nation with an urban population of at least 12
million. The hillside Yangtze River port, famous for spicy hot-pot and
often covered in fog, was China's capital from 1938 to 1945. Today, it is
being developed as a gateway to the country's western hinterland.

Chongqing has gained prominence the past two years because of its
Communist Party chief, Bo Xilai, a rising political star who has led a
controversial crackdown on organized crime that some lawyers have
criticized for what they say are violations of legal due process.

View Full Image
Getty Images

Chongqing's party chief, Bo Xilai, led a controversial crime crackdown.

Mr. Bo declined to comment. He is expected to become one of China's top
leaders next year by being appointed to China's Politburo Standing
Committee, the nation's top decision-making body.

Chongqing's government has said it plans to invest more than $800 million
of its own in building the Peaceful Chongqing system. Another $1.6 billion
is coming from other, unspecified sources, the city has said. Hikvision's
president, Hu Yangzhong, said in an interview that government funds would
go toward building the central surveillance network and installing a
portion of the cameras, while more cameras would be installed by owners of
residences, office buildings and others-all of which would be linked to
the network.

Video-surveillance systems can serve many purposes and are routinely used
for benign purposes by cities world-wide to fight crime and ease traffic.
Still, civil libertarians raise concerns including in the U.S. that the
technology can invade privacy and is poorly regulated.

Human-rights advocates say Chinese police have used surveillance footage
to identify people in political protests. Jailed Chinese artist-activist
Ai Weiwei, who was released last month, complained before he was
apprehended on April 3 that police were using cameras to monitor him.

Corinna-Barbara Francis, a researcher at Amnesty International, said
surveillance footage has been used to identify and apprehend peaceful
protesters in China, including in Xinjiang and Tibet. "In China there's
ample evidence that they use" video surveillance "to crack down and then
criminalize activity which should not be criminalized," Ms. Francis said.

The Chongqing government declined to comment, as did China's Ministry of
Public Security and the State Council Information Office. Chinese leaders
have long argued that maintaining social stability and economic growth
takes precedence over political rights.

Hikvision's president, Mr. Hu, said he believes the project's goal is to
cut crime, not target political dissidents. "China has a very serious
public-security problem," he said in an interview last week. He blamed an
epidemic of robbery and other crimes on the flood of poor migrants into
China's cities and a growing wealth gap.

Mr. Hu said Chongqing's new surveillance system will be tied in to an
information network that Cisco is already building in the city, where
Cisco has announced a high-profile alliance under a program it calls
Smart+Connected Communities-an initiative under which Cisco consults with
governments around the world to use technology to tackle civic problems
such as transportation, healthcare and education.

According to the Chongqing government's website, Cisco Chief Executive
John Chambers told the city's mayor in a meeting last year that he hoped
the Smart+Connected project could create a "model in Chongqing which can
be popularized in China."

Executives at Western companies say they must weigh the possibility that
technology could be misused against the business risks of missing out on a
lucrative market. "We do have concerns," said Intergraph's Mr. Scott. "On
the other hand, we want to do business there," he said, noting that the
company's software is also used for environmental and other projects in

"We're just the technology platform," he said, adding that it is the
responsibility of the buyers "to meet and adhere to laws and policies" of
their jurisdictions. Ultimately, Intergraph has "to manage the risk
against the gain."

In an April interview with the Journal, Bill Stuntz, general manager of
Cisco's physical-security business, said Cisco gives careful consideration
to how its products are used in China and doesn't want them to be used for
repressive purposes. He declined to discuss specific projects in China but
noted that sales of security equipment there have been expanding rapidly.
He said Cisco is providing products that include networking equipment and
servers along with support for some large video-surveillance systems,
though not video cameras.

China has become the fastest growing market for surveillance equipment,
although it isn't yet the biggest, according to IMS Research, a U.K. firm
that studies the market. The surveillance markets in the U.S. and Europe
are growing at single-digit rates while surveillance-related revenue in
China is growing at 23% a year. Surveillance-equipment sales alone, not
including networking gear or software, totaled $1.7 billion last year.

Chongqing's government says on its website that its current surveillance
system is outdated, allowing police to directly tap into just 15,000 of
the total 300,000 cameras. It wants the new system to be among the world's
most advanced.

Mr. Scott of Intergraph says Chongqing wants not only to increase camera
count, but also to have video managed and delivered to dozens of police
precincts and other organizations. The project presents challenges "that
have not really been done anywhere else in the world," he said.

Mr. Scott said his company spent three years developing software that
enables multiple agencies to control cameras and also analyzes video feeds
for unusual situations like fires or the formation of crowds.

The number of surveillance cameras in Chinese cities including Chongqing
appears to dwarf that of other cities around the world, though comparisons
are tough because cities generally don't disclose their camera counts.

A 2008 report by the state-run Xinhua news agency said Beijing had some
280,000 cameras in its system. By comparison, privacy advocates in the
U.S., including the American Civil Liberties Union, estimate Chicago has
10,000 cameras. The New York Civil Liberties Union estimated in 2009 that
there were 8,000 cameras in New York.
-Kersten Zhang, Yoli Zhang, Jason Dean and Cari Tuna contributed to this

Write to Loretta Chao at and Don Clark at


Sean Noonan

Tactical Analyst

Office: +1 512-279-9479

Mobile: +1 512-758-5967

Strategic Forecasting, Inc.