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China Implements Stricter Export Controls on Drones Amid Escalating US Tensions

Updated: Jan 2

[Edited] In a move to safeguard national security and interests amidst escalating tension with the United States over technology access, China announced on Monday that it will impose export controls on certain drones and drone-related equipment.

Credits: REUTERS

The restrictions, which will take effect on September 1, will apply to equipment such as drone engines, lasers, communication equipment, and anti-drone systems, according to the commerce ministry.

The controls will also impact some consumer drones, and the spokesperson for the ministry stated that no civilian drones can be exported for military purposes. The unidentified spokesperson emphasized that China's expansion of drone control is a responsible measure to implement global security initiatives and maintain world peace.

Relevant countries and regions have been notified about these export controls, according to the spokesperson. China has a significant drone manufacturing industry and exports to various markets, including the United States.

The Department of Defense and Commerce Department of the United States have not yet responded to requests for comment regarding these export controls.

It is worth noting that in 2019, Congress banned the Pentagon from purchasing or using drones and components manufactured in China. U.S. lawmakers have highlighted that over 50% of drones sold in the U.S. are made by Chinese-based company DJI, and they are widely used by public safety agencies.

In response to the announcement, DJI stated that it has always strictly complied with and enforced the laws and regulations of the countries or regions in which it operates, including China's export control requirements. The company added that it has never designed, manufactured, marketed, or sold products for military use or in military conflicts or wars in any country.

In March 2022, a German retailer accused DJI of leaking data on Ukrainian military positions to Russia, an accusation that the company vehemently denied as "utterly false."

China's commerce ministry previously stated in April of this year that U.S. and Western media were spreading unfounded accusations about exporting drones to the battlefield in Ukraine.

The ministry labeled these reports as an attempt to smear Chinese firms and reiterated its commitment to strengthening export controls on drones.

These drone export curbs come after China's recent announcement of export controls on metals widely used in chipmaking. These measures are seen as a response to the United States' moves to restrict China's access to key technologies, including chipmaking equipment.

  • China has announced export controls on certain drones and drone-related equipment, citing the need to safeguard national security and interests.

  • The restrictions will apply to equipment such as drone engines, lasers, communication equipment, and anti-drone systems.

  • Some consumer drones will also be affected, and no civilian drones can be exported for military purposes.


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