China Implements Export Controls on Drone Technology amid Escalating Tensions


China Implements Export Controls on Drone Technology amid Escalating Tensions

BEIJING - In response to the escalating tension with the United States over access to technology, China announced on Monday its decision to impose export controls on certain drones and drone-related equipment. The move comes as the country aims to safeguard its "national security and interests" in the face of growing uncertainties in the global tech landscape.


Scheduled to take effect on September 1, the restrictions will apply to a range of equipment, including drone engines, lasers, communication devices, and anti-drone systems. Additionally, the controls will impact some consumer drones, with a strict prohibition on exporting any civilian drones for military purposes. A spokesperson from China's commerce ministry emphasized that this measure reflects the country's responsible approach as a major nation, aimed at implementing global security initiatives and upholding world peace.


China, known for its significant drone manufacturing industry, currently exports drones to various markets, including the United States. DJI, a Chinese-based company, is a prominent player in the drone market, manufacturing drones that have gained popularity among public safety agencies. However, U.S. lawmakers have raised concerns, stating that more than 50% of drones sold in the U.S. are DJI products.


In response to the export controls, DJI clarified its position, asserting strict compliance with the laws and regulations of all countries and regions in which it operates. The company firmly stated that it has never designed, manufactured, marketed, or sold products intended for military use or deployment in military conflicts anywhere in the world.


The move to implement export controls on drones comes in the wake of prior accusations and controversies. In March 2022, a German retailer accused DJI of leaking data on Ukrainian military positions to Russia, which the company vehemently denied as "utterly false." Additionally, China's commerce ministry refuted claims in April of exporting drones to the battlefield in Ukraine, dismissing them as "unfounded accusations" propagated by U.S. and Western media to discredit Chinese companies. Consequently, China reaffirmed its commitment to fortify export controls on drones.


Notably, China's recent imposition of export controls on certain metals widely used in chipmaking further underscores the ongoing tech trade tensions between China and the United States. These measures serve as a response to actions taken by the U.S. government, which aims to limit China's access to key technologies, including chipmaking equipment.


As the global tech competition intensifies, China's decision to regulate drone exports underscores its pursuit of strategic interests and positioning in the tech landscape. However, the impact of these controls on international relations and the global tech industry remains to be seen, as stakeholders closely monitor developments on both sides of the divide.

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