What happened: On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Hikvision, a Chinese surveillance equipment manufacturer, may be banned from buying American technology, citing anonymous sources familiar with the issue. The company’s products include artificial intelligence (AI) software for tracking individuals, and they are used in China and abroad. According to the report, the Commerce Department will require approval from other US government authorities for American companies seeking to supply the Hangzhou-based surveillance giant with components. Hikvision’s stock fell as much as 10% on Wednesday. A final decision is expected over the coming weeks.
Why it’s important: The ban will place Hikvision on a US government trade blacklist, which as of last Friday includes telecom equipment maker Huawei. The blacklist is among a list of measures by the Trump administration aimed at curbing China’s global influence in technology industries, including charging Huawei and its CFO Meng Wanzhou with a series US criminal charges over alleged Chinese espionage and trade secret theft. It is likely to further inflame tensions between the world’s superpowers, which have been rising after extended bilateral tariffs. The Hikvision ban will be the first instance of US actions aimed at China’s domestic use of surveillance, a topic which has sparked heated international debate.