US Treasury claims DJI assists Chinese surveillance of Uyghurs and blocks investments

DJI is one of the biggest drone companies in the world, and last year, the US government added it to the Department of Commerce’s Entity List, which marked it as a national security concern and banned US-based companies from exporting technology to it. Today, the Treasury Department placed further sanctions on DJI, including it as one of eight Chinese companies added to the Non-SDN Chinese Military-Industrial Complex Companies (NS-CMIC) List.

US Treasury:

Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) identified eight Chinese technology firms pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13959, as amended by E.O. 14032. These eight entities actively support the biometric surveillance and tracking of ethnic and religious minorities in China, particularly the predominantly Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang. As a result of today’s action, U.S. persons will be prohibited from purchasing or selling certain publicly traded securities connected with these entities, as described in E.O. 13959, as amended.

SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd.

SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd. (SZ 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. The Xinjiang Public Security Bureau was previously designated in July 2020, pursuant to E.O. 13818, for being a foreign person responsible for, or complicit in, or that has directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse.

As described in the sections of the statement shown above, the US government says these companies have supported efforts to surveil and track the Uyghur people in Xinjiang. Last week, the White House announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing due to those activities.

During a press conference yesterday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian was asked about the ban and responded by saying, “We noted relevant reports. I would like to stress that China always opposes US moves to overstretch the concept of national security and exert unwarranted suppression on Chinese companies. The Chinese side has already shared the facts and truth on Xinjiang-related issues on many occasions. We will closely follow the relevant situation and firmly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.”

DJI spokesperson Adam Lisberg did not comment on today’s action but referred to the company’s response to last year’s sanctions, which reads as follows: “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.”