New DJI drones on the way – but will you be able to buy them?

(Image credit: DJI)

DJI has had a tumultuous year when it comes to the United States market. Throughout 2020, the drone company has had to deal with a variety of legal challenges, mostly revolving around the ITC's (International Trade Commission) chief administrative law judge recommendation that DJI products should be banned from importation into the United States. 

The last we heard was that the ITC's decision was overturned and that DJI was allowed to continue selling its range of drones, gimbals and more in the US. However, it seems that DJI now has a fresh challenge from the United States Department of Commerce. 

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The Department of Commerce has blocked multiple companies, including DJI, from being able to conduct business with US-based companies. This means that American companies won't be able to export parts to DJI. It could also mean the consumers based in the US will find it harder to purchase DJI products, although there's no guarantee that this will definitely be the case.

According to Reuters (via PetaPixel), dozens of Chinese companies have been added to the US government's economic blacklist, including DJI and the country's top chipmaker, SMIC. This is due to what the Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross called China's "ubiquitous surveillance to repress its citizens in Xinjiang and elsewhere." 

Apparently, DJI, along with three other companies, "enabled wide-scale human rights abuses within China through abusive genetic collection and analysis or high-technology surveillance." 

Back in March, Bloomberg posted an article pointing to DJI having aided China in surveilling Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. Apparently, DJI had posted a statement on its website in 2017 outlining a deal for "strategic cooperation" in order to provide police drones to the public security bureau of Xinjiang. This statement has since disappeared from the DJI website. 

Whether this decision will affect US consumers remains to be seen. While DJI seems to be allowed to continue exporting its products to the US, you only have to look at the fate of Huawei to imagine the difficulties that DJI might face in the US market. 

Read more

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Louise Carey

With over a decade of photographic experience, Louise arms Digital Camera World with a wealth of knowledge on photographic technique and know-how – something at which she is so adept that she's delivered workshops for the likes of ITV and Sue Ryder. Louise also brings years of experience as both a web and print journalist, having served as features editor for Practical Photography magazine and contributing photography tutorials and camera analysis to titles including Digital Camera Magazine and  Digital Photographer. Louise currently shoots with the Fujifilm X-T200 and the Nikon D800, capturing self-portraits and still life images, and is DCW's ecommerce editor, meaning that she knows good camera, lens and laptop deals when she sees them.