Chinese drone manufacturer DJI has been added to the US economic blacklist. According to the US Government’s Commerce Department, DJI is one of four companies that “enabled wide-scale human rights abuses within China through abusive genetic collection and analysis or high-technology surveillance.”
DJI is the latest addition to the blacklist that already contains dozens of Chinese companies. It was added on Friday along with AGCU Scientech, China National Scientific Instruments and Materials, and Kuang-Chi Group. The US Commerce Department accused these four companies of “high-technology surveillance” and “human rights abuses,” as mentioned above. Additionally, the department claims that they “facilitated the export of items by China that aid repressive regimes around the world, contrary to U.S. foreign policy interests.”
I think that we could have seen this coming, but it was hard to believe. In 2017, the US Army stopped using DJI drones over “cyber vulnerabilities.” Shortly after that, DJI was accused of spying on the US for China. Then last year, the US Government issued an alert warning that drones made in China could end up on the economic blacklist. DJI wasn’t specifically mentioned, but it was obvious, considering the previous incidents and the company’s estimated 74% market share in 2018.
As a result of the decision, US companies “may be prohibited from exporting parts to DJI and other companies on the list,” DPReview writes. The Verge managed to speak to DJI’s spokesperson, who said that “DJI is disappointed in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision.” Still, they added that “customers in America can continue to buy and use DJI products normally.” We can’t be sure, though, how all of this will unfold. It’s possible that the prices of DJI drones will be affected in the USA and that the import could be more complex or expensive. Whatever happens, this is definitely something we’ll keep following, and we’ll update you of any changes.