DJI among new additions to US ‘entity list’ of Chinese tech firms
DJI, the Chinese drone-making behemoth, has been added to the US Commerce Department’s ‘Entity List’ which lists companies the US considers a threat to national security. Firms on the list are effectively banned from trading with the US, meaning that, in effect, US firms can no longer export components or software to SZ DJI Technology Co. It makes DJI the highest-profile addition to the list since Huawei, over two years ago.
DJI joins AGCU Scientech; China National Scientific Instruments and Materials; and Kuang-Chi Group, who Reuters reports are amongst ‘dozens’ of new additions who, “enabled wide-scale human rights abuses within China through abusive genetic collection and analysis or high-technology surveillance.”
Whilst not as big a household name, the other notable addition to the list is China’s biggest contract chipmaker, SMIC, first rumored to be headed for the digital naughty-step in September. Because of its Chinese base, SMIC was seen as one of the last chances for Huawei to manufacture its HiSilicon SoC range, which has been scuppered by the lack of access to other ARM-based chips, as a result of being on the entity list. The HiSilicon 710A was manufactured by SMIC using some doddery old 14nm process chips, and now it seems that even that option is off the table, giving Huawei very few options for creating phones for export. That isn’t enough to kill it completely, as it’s a brand that still has huge customer loyalty at home, but it will do nothing to help its global ambitions — which, for the US, is precisely the point.
DJI has yet to comment on its own reclassification. We have no way of knowing how much existing stock of components the company has on hand, how long it will last, and how long it will take DJI to find an acceptable alternative. Being placed on the Entity List does not automatically mean a ban on the sale of a firm’s products, though it increases the likelihood that, as happened with Huawei, it could indicate it happening in the future.