United States Blacklists DJI as a ‘Chinese Military Company’

DJI Mini 3 Pro with the vertical camera mode active.

DJI has been officially blacklisted by the United States Department of Defense by classifying it as a “Chinese military company.”

The Department of Defense has released a list of companies that it has determined constitute a national security risk due to their ties to the Chinese government, in which DJI has been included.

“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 Department of Defense writes in the announcement.

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

Section 1260H of the National Defense Authorization Act was passed in 2021 and extends and modernizes the Defense Department’s reporting requirements regarding “Chinese Communist Party military companies operating in the United States.” The amendment requires that the secretary of defense publish and update the list annually.

DJI published a response to its inclusion on the list that challenges its inclusion.

“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 says.

‘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.”

The inclusion is just the latest example of DJI’s struggles when it comes to the United States Government. In 2020, the company was added to the “Economic Blacklist” which prevented it from being able to conduct business with U.S.-based companies. In 2021, a Federal Communications Commission top official called for the addition of DJI to the FCC Covered List, which would have prevented it from selling its products in the United States. Last year, DJI, along with seven other Chinese companies, was added to the U.S. Treasury’s list of “Chinese military-industrial complex companies.”

As DroneDJ explains, despite these continued bans and blacklists, officials at both the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI acknowledge their staff still use DJI drones. As such, it isn’t clear what ramifications the company will actually face after being added to this list.

Image credits: Header photo by Ryan Mense for PetaPixel