A group of 15 Republican lawmakers Monday asked the Pentagon to block export licenses for U.S. components for Chinese-drone manufacturer DJI, citing national security concerns.
The Commerce Department in December 2020 added DJI, the world’s largest drone maker, to the government’s export control list, accusing it of complicity in reports of oppression of China’s Uyghur minority and aiding the Chinese military.
The lawmakers in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said a recent tear down of a DJI drone found U.S. manufactured components, which suggests government approval of export licenses.
The letter said the Defense Department “should not be recommending approval of export control licenses” and added: “America’s adversaries are using DJI drones that contain American cutting-edge technology to harm U.S. national security interests.”
The Pentagon declined to comment.
DJI said the letter “traffics in distortions and misrepresentations of fact. We strongly deny any allegations against DJI regarding human rights.”
DJI added that its “drones have proven to be among the most innovative, cost-effective, and easy to use – while leading on data security.”
Among those signing the letter were Representative Elise Stefanik, China select committee chair Mike Gallagher and Senators Marsha Blackburn, Joni Ernst, Marco Rubio and Todd Young.
“It is time to end Communist China’s weaponization of American ingenuity,” Stefanik said in a statement.
Over 50% of drones sold in the United States are made by DJI. They are the most popular drones in use by public safety agencies, Republican lawmakers said earlier.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington said it hoped the United States “will abandon the Cold War mentality and zero-sum game concept, stop generalizing the concept of national security, stop hyping up the ‘China threat’ theory and its unwarranted suppression of Chinese companies.”
Last month, a bipartisan group of 11 U.S. lawmakers asked the Biden administration to investigate and potentially sanction another Chinese drone maker Autel Robotics.
Gallagher and the China committees’ top Democrat, Raja Krishnamoorthi last month introduced legislation seeking to ban the U.S. government from buying Chinese drones.
Congress in 2019 banned the Pentagon from buying or using drones and components manufactured in China.
Source : Reuters