China to impose export controls on some drones from September

Asian Tech Press (Aug 1) -- China will impose export controls on some drones from 1 September 2023, four regulatory agencies jointly announced late on Monday.

China's Ministry of Commerce, together with the General Administration of Customs (GAC), the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence(SASTIND), and the Equipment Development Department of the Central Military Commission (CMC), issued two announcements stating that the country has decided to impose export controls on some drones and related items "in order to safeguard national security and interests."

According to the two notices, the subjects under control include some engines dedicated to drones, critical payloads, radiocommunication equipment and civil anti-drone systems.

The statements noted that the export of these products is subject to the approval of the regulatory authorities, and that those who violate the regulations will face administrative penalties or even be held criminally liable.

In addition, the Chinese government has also imposed temporary export controls on some consumer drones for a period of two years, while banning the export of all other civilian drones not under control for military purposes.

Notably, the rules will come into effect one month later.

A spokesperson for China's Ministry of Commerce said on Monday that high-performance drones have certain military attributes, and it is international practice to impose export controls on them.

The spokesperson said that since 2002, China had gradually imposed export controls on drones, and that the scope of controls and technical standards were in line with international standards.

As to whether the export of drones is completely banned, the spokesperson explained, "Export control is not a ban on export. As long as they are used for legitimate civil purposes, they can be exported normally after fulfilling relevant procedures."

China is a major producer and exporter of drones, and China-based SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd. is the world's largest commercial drone maker, currently accounting for more than 70% of the global drone market.

On the new drone export rules, DJI told Chinese media outlets late on Monday, "DJI, as a global enterprise, has always maintained a rigorous and responsible attitude in the field of export control."

The drone maker emphasised that it has always strictly adhered to and enforced the export control laws and regulations applicable in China and other countries or regions where it operates.

A DJI official said that DJI has always been committed to designing, developing and manufacturing civilian drone products, "Since the beginning of our establishment, we have always been strongly opposed to the use of our products and technologies for any military or war purposes. We have never designed and manufactured products and equipment for military use, nor have we ever marketed or sold our products for military conflict or war in any country."

DJI said it will also strictly adhere to the Chinese government's interim export control policy for drones, which was released on Monday, to ensure full compliance.

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