Australia removes dozens of Chinese-made cameras from politicians’ offices

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Australian officials said Tuesday dozens of Chinese-made security cameras would be ripped out of politicians’ offices, days after the country’s defense minister announced his department would remove the devices from its buildings due to security concerns.

At least 913 Chinese-made security cameras have been installed across more than 250 Australian government buildings, including the Department of Defense’s facilities, according to figures released last week.

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Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles told national broadcaster ABC last week that all these cameras within his department’s buildings would be removed, saying it was to “make sure that our facilities are completely secure.”

Officials from the Department of Finance on Tuesday confirmed a further 65 closed-circuit television systems had been installed within offices used by Australian politicians.

While the department had been gradually replacing the cameras as part of a broader security upgrade, at least 40 systems still needed to be stripped out, the department said, adding that they would be replaced by April.

The CCTV cameras were not connected to the internet, and were being removed as a precaution, the department said.

Similar moves have been made in the United States and Britain, which have taken measures to stop government departments installing Chinese-made cameras at sensitive sites.

Both countries have expressed fears that Chinese companies could be forced to share intelligence collected by the cameras with Beijing’s security services.

The cameras were made by companies Hikvision and Dahua, which have been blacklisted in the United States for allegedly helping the Chinese government carry out a “campaign of repression.”

According to the US Department of Commerce, Hikvision and Dahua have been implicated in the “high-technology surveillance” of the Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang region.

The US banned imports of surveillance equipment made by the two companies in November last year, saying it posed “an unacceptable risk to national security.”

Hikvision has said it was “categorically false” to paint the company as “a threat to national security.”

After Marles’ statements last week about removing Chinese-made cameras, Beijing accused Australia of “misusing national might to discriminate against and suppress Chinese enterprises.”

“We hope Australia will provide a fair, just and nondiscriminatory environment for the normal operations of Chinese enterprises,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.

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