The United States is making another move against popular drone maker DJI as the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) places it and seven other companies on an investment blocklist.
The announcement was made on Thursday following reports that DJI would be among the companies targeted by the U.S. government. According to the Treasury, these companies “actively support the biometric surveillance and tracking of ethnic and religious minorities in China, particularly the predominantly Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang.”
More specifically, the Treasury says that DJI “operates or has operated in the surveillance technology sector of the economy of the PRC. SZ DJI has provided drones to the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau, which are used to surveil Uyghurs in Xinjiang.”
Last year, the U.S. Department of Commerce placed DJI on its entity list, blocking U.S. companies from providing technology to DJI unless they had a license to do so. It was believed then that DJI’s products “enabled wide-scale human rights abuses within China through abusive genetic collection and analysis or high-technology surveillance.”
The new list blocks U.S. investors from buying or selling shares in the company, as noted by Brian E. Nelson, the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
Today’s action highlights how private firms in China’s defense and surveillance technology sectors are actively cooperating with the government’s efforts to repress members of ethnic and religious minority groups. Treasury remains committed to ensuring that the U.S. financial system and American investors are not supporting these activities.
While the move places more pressure on DJI and the Chinese government, DJI can continue selling its products in the United States, unlike Huawei, which has seen tighter sanctions placed on it.
DJI was not immediately available for a comment but has pointed other publications to its response following last year’s placement on the entity list, saying that it has “done nothing to justify being placed on the entity list.