U.S. adds Chinese drone company DJI to economic blacklist


China’s SZ DJI Technology Co, the world’s largest drone maker, on Friday was added to the U.S. government’s economic blacklist along with dozens of other Chinese companies.

Dozens of Chinese companies were being added to the so-called entity list, including the country’s top chipmaker, SMIC.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Friday criticized what he called China’s “ubiquitous surveillance to repress its citizens in Xinjiang and elsewhere.”

The Commerce Department added DJI, AGCU Scientech, China National Scientific Instruments and Materials, and Kuang-Chi Group because the four companies “enabled wide-scale human rights abuses within China through abusive genetic collection and analysis or high-technology surveillance.”

The four Chinese companies did not immediately comment or could not be reached on Friday.

The department also said in some cases the four companies had “facilitated the export of items by China that aid repressive regimes around the world, contrary to U.S. foreign policy interests.”

The United States government has previously raised concerns about DJI and other Chinese makers of drones.

In January, the U.S. Interior Department said it was grounding its fleet of about 800 Chinese-made drones and earlier halted additional Interior Department purchases of such drones.

In May 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned U.S. firms of the risks to company data from Chinese-made drones.

Separately, U.S. lawmakers this month opted not to ban the purchase of Chinese drone technology by U.S. agencies as part of an annual defense bill.