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Targeting Tiandy


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targeting-tiandy
Foundation for Defense of Democracies

The Case for Blacklisting a Chinese Tech Firm Tied to Crackdowns on Uyghurs and Iranian Protestors


Craig Singleton China Program Deputy Director and Senior Fellow

Dec.1 2022

Introduction

China remains the undisputed leader in developing and fielding technologies that enable government control and manipulation of foreign and domestic populations, otherwise known as techno-authoritarianism.1 The firms that produce these technologies consist of both Chinese state-owned companies and China-based private entities susceptible to Beijing’s pressure to censor and surveil. One of those private firms is Tiandy Technologies Co., Ltd. (天津天地伟业数码科技有限公司), based in Tianjin province in northern China. Both Tiandy testimonials and Chinese government press releases advertise the use of the company’s products by Chinese officials to track and interrogate Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang province.2 According to human rights groups, Chinese authorities also employ Tiandy products, such as “tiger chairs,” to torture Uyghurs and other minorities.3

The Chinese firms that equip Beijing’s surveillance state market facial recognition software, emotion-detecting artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, surveillance drones, and closed-circuit television (CCTV) capabilities to other autocratic regimes, including Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. According to Tiandy Iran’s website and Instagram account, the company has sold surveillance equipment to Iran’s security, police, and military services.4 The Internet Protocol Video Market (IPVM), a U.S.-based security industry research group and trade publication, also obtained documents that report such sales.5 The products reportedly sold to Iran include network video recorders that digitize and store surveillance videos, using microchips that Tiandy produced in partnership with U.S. manufacturer Intel.6

At present, Tiandy is not subject to U.S. sanctions or export controls. In light of Tiandy’s operations in both Xinjiang and Iran, policymakers should consider moving quickly to target Tiandy’s global operations to cut the company and its owner, Dai Lin, off from the international financial system and global supply chains.

In particular, Washington should examine whether Tiandy’s conduct meets the criteria for imposing sanctions under Executive Order 13818, which implemented the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, targeting persons who are “responsible for or complicit in, or to have directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse.”7 U.S. allies, such as Britain and Canada, that have comparable global human rights sanctions regimes should also determine whether Tiandy meets criteria for sanctions. The U.S. government should consider sanctions and punitive actions pursuant to other laws and executive orders that specifically target the perpetrators of human rights abuses in Iran and China. 

Tiandy’s Global Operations and Products

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