Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Drone wars: U.S. imposes new sanctions on China

The Week Staff

The U.S. cuts its reliance on a rival’s technology.

The smartest insight and analysis, from all perspectives, rounded up from around the web:

New restrictions on a key dronemaker show how serious the U.S. is about cutting its reliance on Chinese technology, said Bruce Einhorn and Todd Shields in Bloomberg. China’s DJI Technology is “the world’s top producer of unmanned aerial vehicles” and controls “more than half of the U.S. drone market.” But the Treasury Department last week added DJI and seven other Chinese tech companies to a growing “blacklist,” blocking it from receiving any U.S. investments. Though DJI is a private company, it “has become the poster child for a much wider national security threat” — China’s “ability to obtain sensitive data on millions of Americans,” as “everything from cars to yoga mats to toilets are now transmitting data.” Harnessing that information is viewed as a “key to dominating technologies like artificial Intelligence” — and “exploiting weaknesses in strategic foes.”

The move against DJI echoes how the U.S. started its campaign against Huawei, China’s leading phonemaker, said Gina Chon in BreakingViews. But “it was relatively easy to make” the Chinese telecom disappear from the U.S., because it was just making its first inroads. DJI is a different story. “More than 900 U.S. public safety agencies use its products,” including the New York Police Department, making a commercial ban “unrealistic.”  The pressure to disengage, though, comes from both countries, said the Financial Times in an editorial. China pressured Didi to delist shortly after it “launched the biggest listing of a Chinese company since Alibaba in 2014,” and has allowed a “slow unraveling” of property giant Evergrande, which defaulted on debts held by foreign investors. The moves seem to be part of “a bulwark” against “mistrusted foreign forces” as Beijing constructs a new “Fortress China.”

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