Escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing are wiping billions from the net worth of China’s richest surveillance tycoons.
The billionaires behind Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co and Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co have watched their combined fortunes sink by more than $8 billion since March 2018 as shares of both companies sank on speculation of potential US sanctions.
The losses deepened after reports that Donald Trump’s administration is considering blacklisting the surveillance giants, in part because of their alleged role in human rights violations.
Hikvision Vice Chairman Gong Hongjia, whose fortune peaked at $13 billion in November 2017, is now worth about $6 billion after the stock fell as much as 10 percent on Wednesday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Dahua Chairman Fu Liquan’s net worth has dropped to $1.9 billion from $4.3 billion in March 2018.
Hikvision and Dahua have been among the biggest beneficiaries of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s unprecedented push to keep tabs on his country’s 1.4 billion people.
Both companies have also been accused by human rights groups of facilitating the government’s suppression of Uighurs in the western region of Xinjiang.
As tensions between China and the US have escalated in recent months over issues ranging from trade to corporate espionage and human rights, Hikvision and Dahua have seen their share prices drop by more than 40 percent from record highs.
The US is deliberating whether to add Hikvision, Dahua and several other surveillance firms to a blacklist that bars them from US components or software, people familiar with the matter said. Trump’s administration barred Huawei Technologies Co from American technology.