WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chinese manufacturer SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd, the world’s largest producer of consumer drones, said on Monday it plans to use a company warehouse in California to assemble them, a move that follows security concerns raised by some U.S. lawmakers.
DJI said it will assemble its Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual drones in Cerritos, California, after the U.S. Customs and Border Protection determines that the U.S. produced value of its drones will qualify under the U.S. Trade Agreements Act. That designation should make it easier for some U.S. government agencies to buy the drones, the company said
“This new investment will expand DJI’s footprint in the U.S. so we can better serve our customers, create U.S. jobs, and strengthen the U.S. drone economy,” the company said in a statement.
DJI has come under fire from some lawmakers and security experts in the United States and was criticized last week at a U.S. Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing by security researchers.
Senator Rick Scott, a Republican, asked at the hearing if Congress should outlaw the U.S. sale of Chinese-made drones.
“I think we’re crazy to do business with the Chinese,” Scott said during the hearing. “We ought to be buying American products in every way we can.... They are not our friend.”
Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat, said at the hearing that Americans who own Chinese-made drones are worried about individual privacy and security concerns. “Chinese animate (drones) with their values, which are inconsistent with ours,” Markey said.
On June 10, U.S. President Donald Trump said in a memo “the domestic production capability for small unmanned aerial systems is essential to the national defense.”
Harry Wingo, a faculty member at the National Defense University, told the Senate panel “the U.S. is over-reliant” on DJI, saying its market share may exceed 70% globally.
“The glaring gap between U.S. and Chinese companies like DJI in the (drone) platform market should be a wake up call,” Wingo said. He suggested the issue “presents a national risk, similar to that highlighted by President Trump in calling out the risk of using 5G equipment from Huawei in U.S. telecommunications networks.” Read more