DJI, the largest hobby drone maker in the world, will soon be added to a U.S. investment blacklist by the Biden administration, according to a new report from the Financial Times. The blacklist designation comes over DJI’s alleged involvement in human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, though it’s not immediately clear how the White House believes the drone company may be involved.
There are reports that DJI has provided drones to Chinese police operating in the Xinjiang region where up to a million Uyghurs have been forced into concentration camps and “re-education centres” in recent years. But China has denied the allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, insinuating that American interest in the region is merely another battlefront in the New Cold War.
DJI told Gizmodo via email overnight that it wasn’t aware of being placed on a new blacklist. The company referred Gizmodo to a statement it put out last year when it first was added to the Treasury Department’s so-called Entity List.
“DJI has done nothing to justify being placed on the Entity List. We have always focused on building products that save lives and benefit society. DJI and its employees remain committed to providing our customers with the industry’s most innovative technology. We are evaluating options to ensure our customers, partners, and suppliers are treated fairly,” a spokesperson for the company said.
DJI will be added to the blacklist, which prohibits American investment into the Chinese entities, on Thursday along with seven other companies, according to the Financial Times, including:
Megvii (artificial intelligence)
Dawning Information Industry, aka Sugon (supercomputers)
CloudWalk Technology (facial recognition)
Xiamen Meiya Pico (data forensics and cybersecurity)
Leon Technology (cloud computing)
NetPosa Technologies (cloud-based surveillance)
All seven additional companies are already on the Treasury Department’s entity list, which essentially bans U.S. companies from doing business with the firms.
DJI is an extremely popular name in the world of commercial drones and it’s not immediately clear how this new blacklist will impact the company’s bottom line. But you’re still able to buy DJI products in the U.S., at least for now, something that can’t be said for some other large Chinese tech brands like Huawei, which has been forced out of large American retail stores like Best Buy.