Beijing reportedly asked Hikvision to identify fasting students in Muslim-majority province
University managment app also tracked library activity, holidays, and much more
US-based research group IPVM has accused Chinese video surveillance equipment company Hikvision of engaging with a contract to develop technology that can identify Muslim students that are fasting during Ramadan, based on their dining records.
Hikvision used its LinkedIn page to confirm it had won a tender for the project, but denied its products can analyse video streams to identify ethnic minorities.
The company claimed “this project never engaged in the development and deployment of the referenced features.”
Hikvision added that it was “reaching out to provide clarification on this matter.” It did not say to whom it will reach out.
But according to a government announcement the Chinese surveillance equipment maker was required to meet the tender requirements without exception.
The $9 million contract required the first phase of a “Smart Campus” system be built out for Minjiang University in the Fujian province. The university celebrated the completion of the contract in December 2022.
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Within the 600 page tender is the outline of a system called the "Assisted Analysis Of Ethnic Minority Students" which is intended to support administrators' "decision-making" and includes a feature that alerts administration to students suspected of fasting, according to IPVM.
In addition to knowing if a student is fasting, the Minjiang University smart campus project tracks and provides school management with extensive information on a person’s daily habits and life, according to the tender.
This includes details on book borrowing, holiday destinations, passport use, student club activities, information about family members and where individuals stand on their application for membership to the Chinese Communist Party.
While reasons for observing fasting may vary, Beijing’s repression of Muslims raises suspicions that China wants to watch tired and hungry students observing the holy month of Ramadan, during which the faithful abstain from eating or drinking from dawn to sunset.
China is credibly accused of committing human rights violations against its Muslim minorities, including incarceration and forced labour.
Last July, Hikvision allegedly provided the Chinese government with technology that could identify members of the Muslim Uyghur population under a different $6 million contract.
Hikvision denied the report claiming that identification functionality has not been available since 2018. ®