DJI Gets Blacklisted As Chinese Military Company by U.S Government

DJI Inaspire 3 featured foto

DJI, one of the world’s most popular manufacturers of compact photo/video-capable recreational drones is again being targetted by the U.S Department of Defense as a Chinese military company.

Because of this, the drone and action camera maker has been classified as a national security risk and officially blacklisted.

As the Defense Department announced in a statement, “The Department is determined to highlight and counter the PRC Military-Civil Fusion strategy, which supports the modernization goals of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) by ensuring its access to advanced technologies and expertise are acquired and developed by PRC companies, universities, and research programs that appear to be civilian entities,”

The DoD further elaborated, “Section 1260H directs the Department to begin identifying, among other things, Military-Civil Fusion contributors operating directly or indirectly in the United States.”

This particular section of the National Defense Authorization Act was enacted in 2021 and is set to be reviewed and updated annually for the DoD’s reporting activities about the “Chinese Communist Party military companies operating in the United States.”

As a Chinese company that makes flying machines (albeit small ones designed for consumer use) DJI is a target that the DoD has deemed plausible under Section 1260H.

DJI itself has of course aggressively countered the justifications for its inclusion under the law. The company published a response in which it stated:

“DJI stands alone as the only drone company to clearly denounce and actively discourage military use of our products, including suspending all business operations in Russia and Ukraine to try to keep our drones out of the conflict there. There is no reason why DJI has been added to the Defense Department’s list of ‘Chinese military companies,”

The company also said:

‘DJI does not fall under any categories set by the law to be included on the list. DJI is not a military company in China, the United States, or anywhere else. DJI has never designed or manufactured military-grade equipment and has never marketed or sold its products for military use in any country. Instead, we have always developed products to benefit society and save lives.”

So far, no known product the company has produced or known major sales that they have made indicate any military involvement with China’s government or its allies.

Nonetheless, the inclusion of DJI stands as of this writing, and it’s not even the first time in which the U.S Government has targeted the company.

In 2020, DJI was also added to a U.S Department of Commerce economic sanctions blacklist that blocked its ability to legally do business with American companies, though the company could still sell its products on the U.S market.

Later in 2021, DJI was again a target, but this time of the U.S Treasury Department, which placed it and several other Chinese companies on a list of “Chinese military-industrial complex companies”.

It’s worth noting that despite all these official campaigns against DJI, even major U.S law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and DHS (Department of Homeland Security) admit that they and their staff continue to use DJI drones and camera technologies for their own operations.

In other words, the official campaigns by major U.S government departments seem more like political smear efforts than practical attempts to block the presence of DJI products on the U.S  market or even in lower-level government use.

As of now, yes, you can still buy DJI products in the U.S as a U.S customer. Products such as their generally excellent drones and action cameras are still available on Amazon and elsewhere just like always, and nothing about their quality has changed because of the above rulings.

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Shotkit Journalist, Writer & Reviewer

Stephan Jukic is a technology and photography journalist and experimental photographer who spends his time living in both Canada and Mexico. He loves cross-cultural street photo exploration and creating fine art photo compositions.

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