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Mitt Romney owns stake in Chinese surveillance company

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney
Associated Press

As China rapidly evolves into a surveillance state determined to constantly monitor its own citizens, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stands to profit from the Orwellian buildup.

The New York Times reported Thursday that a Romney family blind trust has between $100,000 and $250,000 invested in a Bain Capital fund that recently acquired Uniview Technologies, "a Chinese company that claims to be the largest supplier to the government’s Safe Cities program, a highly advanced monitoring system that allows the authorities to watch over university campuses, hospitals, mosques and movie theaters from centralized command posts."

According to the Times, Uniview now has only a 1-percent share of the $2.5 billion-per-year Chinese market for security camera networks — but that market is expected to double by 2015.

On the surface, the fact that Romney can profit from a company in the business of producing products human rights activists claim "are used to intimidate and monitor political and religious dissidents" may seem curious because the former Massachusetts governor often criticizes President Barack Obama for a perceived leniency with China regarding human rights (for example, a statement on Romney's website implores, "Any serious U.S. policy toward China must confront the fact that China’s regime continues to deny its people basic political freedoms and human rights").

However, the Times explicitly clarifies that "Mr. Romney has had no role in Bain’s operations since 1999 and had no say over the investment in China."

Politico reported Friday that Romney ducked a question about the Times article during a media session at the airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Mitt Romney said Friday he had not read a New York Times report that explores Bain Capital's role in expanding Chinese government surveillance programs.

"'I'm not familiar with that report, and so I really can't respond to it,' the former Massachusetts governor told reporters after landing in San Juan. Romney defended his investments, saying they're 'managed by a blind trust' and a trustee who 'makes decisions he thinks are correct.'"