Lawmakers Urge Biden to Halt Export Licenses for Chinese Drone Giant DJI

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Growing Security Concerns Over U.S. Tech in DJI Drones

A coalition of 15 Republican legislators has urged the Pentagon to deny export licenses for American components used in drones manufactured by DJI, the Chinese drone behemoth.

This move, highlighted in a recent letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, reportedly stems from national security worries tied to the alleged use of these drones in oppressive acts against China’s Uyghur minority and for aiding the Chinese military.

U.S. Components in DJI Drones Raise Alarm

In December 2020, the Commerce Department placed DJI on its export control list, citing these serious allegations. The lawmakers’ letter points out the discovery of U.S.-manufactured components in a dismantled DJI drone, suggesting that the U.S. Government had previously approved such exports.

They argue that the Defense Department should refrain from endorsing further export licenses that bolster DJI’s technological prowess, fearing this could inadvertently harm U.S. national security interests.

Mixed Responses and Calls for Action

While the Pentagon has withheld comment, responses from the Commerce Department, DJI, and the Chinese Embassy in Washington are pending. DJI, in a previous statement, denied designing or manufacturing products for military purposes.

The letter is backed by prominent lawmakers, including Elise Stefanik, Mike Gallagher, Marsha Blackburn, Joni Ernst, Marco Rubio, and Todd Young. Stefanik emphasized the need to stop “Communist China’s weaponization of American ingenuity.”

Widespread Usage and Legislative Responses

DJI controls over half of the U.S. drone market, with its products widely used by public safety agencies.

This dominance has previously led a bipartisan group of 11 U.S. lawmakers to call for an investigation and potential sanctions against another Chinese drone manufacturer, Autel Robotics.

Further legislative efforts include a proposed ban on U.S. government purchases of Chinese drones, reflecting heightened scrutiny over the national security implications of such technology.

The Ongoing Debate

The controversy underscores a broader debate over the integration of Chinese technology into U.S. supply chains and the balancing act between global trade and national security.

As this situation evolves, it remains a critical focus point for U.S. lawmakers and defense strategists.

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