(FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – North Carolina school districts and local governments have spent thousands of dollars on surveillance cameras linked to genocide in China, a Fox 46 investigation has found.
The US government has accused China of using surveillance technology from two particular companies, Hikvison and Dahua, to track and monitor Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities.
The Federal Communications Commission has called both companies threats to national security.
The companies have also been blacklisted by the federal government.
The US State Department has accused the Chinese government of genocide, forced sterilization and other human rights violations.
“There are security cameras literally meters apart, scanning your face, scanning your emotions, being able to detect who you are,” said Aydin Anwar, a Duke graduate who has nearly 100 family members who are currently missing.
“We don’t have any way of knowing whether or not they’re alive or dead. Whether they are in a concentration camp or a prison right now,” Anwar said.
But records obtained by surveillance watchdog IVPM shows many local agencies are still spending tens of thousands of dollars on the equipment.
In 2020, the Caldwell County School District spent more than $57,000 on 11 Hikvision thermographic cameras.
Cleveland County spent more than $5000 on cameras. And Nash County spent more than $45,000 on the technology.
Fox 46 reached out to all three agencies. Only a representative from Nash County responded.
The government agency said they were unaware of the human rights allegations at the time of purchase. All of the purchases were made through third-party vendors.
The government blacklist only applies to federal agencies, not local or state organizations.
“I think any of these places that are supporting these Chinese businesses, these Chinese tech companies are inadvertently complicit in this genocide,” said Anwar.
China has denied the human rights allegations against the Uyghur Muslims.
Both Hikvisiona do Dahua have said the accusations from the US government aren’t true.