Feds Ground All US Investments in DJI – PCMag
China’s foremost drone maker flew into yet another US regulatory tree Thursday when the Treasury Department put DJI and seven other Chinese companies under an investment ban intended to punish companies for enabling China’s military-industrial complex.
The notice of the action from Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control called out DJI and the other seven, lesser-known firms—Cloudwalk, Dawning, Leon Technology, Megvii, Netposa, Meiya Pico, and Yitu—for supporting “the biometric surveillance and tracking of ethnic and religious minorities in China, particularly the predominantly Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang.”
Of DJI in particular, the notice said in part that the firm “has provided drones to the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau, which are used to surveil Uyghurs in Xinjiang.” Treasury’s action bans US investors from buying or selling securities linked to DJI and the other seven firms.
Chinese officials call the move “unwarranted suppression on Chinese companies.” DJI tells The Verge it “has done nothing to justify being placed on the Entity List.”
Treasury’s list of companies deemed harmful for their entanglement with China’s military-industrial complex is a bipartisan product, having originated in an executive order issued on November 12, 2020 by President Trump and revised by a June 3 executive order issued by President Biden.
US political airspace has grown increasingly unfriendly to Shenzhen-based DJI over the last few years. In August 2017, the Department of Homeland Security’s Los Angeles intelligence office reported “moderate confidence” that DJI was “providing US critical infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government” and “high confidence” that it “selectively targeting government and privately owned entities within these sectors to expand its ability to collect and exploit sensitive US data.”
In December 2020, the Department of Commerce added DJI to its Entity List of firms judged to be “acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States,” banning US technology exports to the firm.
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But as Axios’ Lachlan Markay reported in September, federal agencies have kept on buying DJI drones, with the Secret Service picking up eight and the FBI procuring 19 in July—the same month that a Department of Defense statement assessed that DJI products “pose potential threats to national security.”
DJI drones have earned top marks from PCMag; its DJI Mini 2 and DJI Mavic Air 2 top our best drones list as Editors’ Choice picks.
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