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China’s Surveillance Industry Produces New Generation of Billionaires

The Chinese surveillance industry, a network of hundreds of millions of cameras, is generating more and more tycoons. The four billionaires with the largest amount of money have total assets exceeding $12.1 billion.

Gong Hongjia, founder of Hikvision, has a net worth of 7.2 billion. Dai Lin, chairman of the board of Tiandy’s, is estimated to have a personal wealth of 1.4 billion. The other two billionaires are Fu Liquan, the chairman of Dahua Tech, and Huang Li, the head of Wuhan Guide Infrared Co.

In 2015, Dai Lin developed the industry’s first infrared-free 24-hour full-color camera and in 2016 he launched the Ultra-Low Light Box Camera, which delivers high resolution color pictures in a dark environment at 0.0008 lux illumination. Dai Lin’s facial recognition system, which was developed in 2017, can achieve a recognition accuracy of more than 90 percent.

Human rights organizations worry that China’s use of surveillance technology for big data collection is used to strengthen social control and intensify the government’s suppression of civil rights. Out of national security considerations, the U.S. government has blacklisted products from Hikvision and Dahua from official purchases.

China plans to implement a comprehensive and real time public security monitoring network by 2020. According to official data, the Chinese government’s domestic security spending in 2017 accounted for 6.1 percent of total government spending, or about 1.2 trillion yuan (US$180 billion).

Source: Central News Agency, February 23, 2019