Despite international attention given to the excessive force used against pro-democracy protesters, and in the face of public pledges and government policy to the contrary, Western companies have continued to provide the Hong Kong Police Force and the Government Flying Service with equipment, technology, and training that may aid in the repression of Hong Kong residents
For the past eight years, the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) has used excessive force against pro-democracy protesters. According to Amnesty International, in 2019, police officers beat, pepper sprayed, tear-gassed, and shot protesters with rubber bullets and live ammunition. International human rights organizations also documented unlawful arrests and other instances of police misconduct. The police used similar tactics in 2014 during the Umbrella Movement as protesters used umbrellas to shield themselves from police officers in riot gear. Despite these abuses, foreign companies continued to supply Hong Kong security forces with equipment and services that could be used to repress Hong Kong citizens.
This repression has continued since the 2020 passage of the National Security Law (NSL) in Hong Kong, which increased the Chinese government’s involvement in and oversight over Hong Kong’s internal security matters. The law criminalizes vaguely-defined acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, or collusion with foreign or external forces. Since its passage, over 1,300 journalists, pro-democracy politicians, activists, and other individuals are currently in prison for allegedly violating the law.
In response to the adoption of the NSL, in June 2020 the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Commerce imposed export restrictions on dual-use technology and equipment destined for Hong Kong. Further, the Bureau of Industry and Security of the U.S. Department of Commerce added the Government Flying Service to the Military End-User List in 2021 after one of the Government Flying Service’s Canadian-made aircraft, a Bombardier Challenger 605, allegedly tracked a boat of fugitive activists escaping from Hong Kong to Taiwan and enabled their arrest in Chinese waters.1 This action bars the Government Flying Service from buying certain U.S. goods and technologies and subjects it to additional license requirements.
The European Union and United Kingdom also imposed export restrictions on dual-use equipment and technologies destined for Hong Kong following the passage of the NSL. Despite these export restrictions, Western companies are still providing dual-use equipment and technologies to the HKPF and Government Flying Service.
C4ADS used publicly available data to analyze Hong Kong’s procurement practices between 2017 and 2022. In particular, C4ADS focused on police and security procurement. We identified the foreign companies supplying law enforcement branches that have engaged in human rights abuses against Hong Kong protesters both before and after the passage of the NSL in 2020.
While some of the data analyzed predate the 2020 passage of the NSL in Hong Kong, government repression at the hands of police and security forces in Hong Kong occurred prior to the NSL passage, including the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition on protestors in 2019. Procurement prior to 2020 may also support enforcement of the NSL after its passage as items like bullets, boats, and training equipment often remain in use for years after delivery. Likewise, while many of the items procured have legitimate law enforcement uses, the demonstrated use of law enforcement equipment for repression underscores the need for close attention and control over these exports.
Between 2017 and 2022, companies in nine foreign countries – Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States – received security-related contracts totaling more than US$171 million. These 29 foreign contracts are a subset of over 575 security-related contracts, with the rest going to Hong Kong-based companies. However, they are often the sole source of equipment such as bullets, boats, and aircraft that may support human rights abuse in Hong Kong. Despite the imposition of the NSL, Australian, Canadian, Finnish, French, and Singaporean companies have remained active suppliers to the HKPF and Government Flying Service.
Items procured from foreign companies include tactical equipment, training, and mechanical equipment that may enable repression.
Items procured by the Hong Kong Police Force from foreign companies include at least 32 high-speed boats, over 25 million rounds of ammunition, a command-and-control system, 4 bomb disposal robots, and over 4,000 bullet resistant vests, among others.
Goods and services from foreign companies destined for the Government Flying Service included eight helicopter engines, helicopter management equipment, simulator training, power agreements, and flight training, as well as an aircraft management computer, airplane repair services, and a radar processor.
Publicly traded companies supplied goods to the HKPF and Government Flying Service.
Seven companies included in the dataset are publicly traded or are a division or branch of a company that is publicly traded. This means that everyday investors are financing companies that may facilitate the oppression of Hong Kongers.
Click each block to explore specific cases of Western companies providing the Hong Kong Police Force or the Government Flying Service with ammunition, aircraft, boats, and related services.
C4ADS analysis reveals that foreign companies have supplied the Hong Kong Police Force and Government Flying Service with goods and services that could be used to repress peaceful demonstrators, pro-democracy activists, and others considered to be enemies of the Hong Kong and Chinese governments. Despite international attention given to the deteriorating human rights situation in Hong Kong, companies and governments alike have thus failed to live up to their condemnations of repression in Hong Kong.
Protesters and activists should be allowed to advocate for democracy, peace, and justice without the threat of violence. The rest of the world has a responsibility to end its complicity in repression. To this end, C4ADS recommends:
- Governments impose sanctions on the Hong Kong Police Force and Government Flying Service for their continued repression of Hong Kong residents.
- Governments impose and enforce export restrictions against the Hong Kong Police Force and Government Flying Service.
- Companies end dual-use exports to the Hong Kong Police Force and Government Flying Service.
- Investors divest from publicly traded companies that continue to supply the Hong Kong Police Force and Government Flying Service with goods and services that may enable repression.
1. A list maintained by the U.S. Department of Commerce that identifies entities that use goods for military and paramilitary activity in China, Russia, and Venezuela. “Dual-use goods” refers to technology that can be used for both civilian and military applications.
3. Equipment image sources (from left to right, top to bottom):
Image 1: https://zodiacmilpro.com/zodiac-hurricane/
Image 2: https://en.wiki pedia.org/wiki/.38_Special
Image 3: https://www.motorolasolutions.com/en_xu/products/%03command-center-software/command-and-control.html
Image 4: https://www.med-eng.com/product-category/robots/
Image 5 (Image does not represent specific product shipped): https://sioux.com/steam-generators
Image 6 (Image does not represent specific product shipped): https://bulletproofzone.com/collections/bulletproof-vests
Image 7: https://ant-ag.com/en/cutting-devices
Image 8 (Image does not represent specific product shipped): https://www.flightglobal.com/helicopters/supercomputers-%03simulations-and-smart-tools-inside-sikorskys-bid-for-future%03-vertical-lift/148632.article
Image 9: https://www.helisim.com/simulators
Image 10 (Image does not represent specific product shipped): https://stock.adobe.com/images/flight-management-system-in-%03helicopter-flight-management-computer%03-in-helicopter-dual-fms-in-helicopter-helicopter-s-cockpit/%03256216203?asset_id=256216203
Image 11 (Image does not represent specific product shipped): https://wingsair.net/services/%03helicopter-flight-training-new-york/
Image 12 (Image does not represent specific product shipped): https://www.aircraftsystemstech.com/p/flight-management-system-fms.html
Image 13 (Image does not represent specific product shipped): https://bombardier.com/en
Image 14 (Image does not represent specific product shipped): https://www.airbus.com/en/products-services/%03helicopters/civil-helicopters/h175
Image 15 (Image does not represent specific product shipped): https://cedmarine.com/product/simrad-000-%0312592-001-navico-10-kw-radar-processor-wince/