Next week, the House of Representatives China Committee plans to introduce a bill that would ban the purchase of Chinese-made drones by the U.S. government. This bill is an effort to revamp the prior push for this ban that was derailed by lobbying efforts.
The American Security Drone Act, as it is coined, would not only ban U.S. government agencies from using Chinse-made drones, but would also bar local and state governments from purchasing Chinese drones with federal grants.
While the bill does not specifically address particular drone manufacturers, DJI, the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial drones and a Chinese company, would be directly affected by this law. Right now, governmental agencies as well as numerous industries across the U.S. use DJI drones for their operations. Representative Mike Gallagher said, “The Chinese Communist party consistently weaponizes its near monopoly on the drone market against the good guys; restricting drone exports to Ukraine while Hamas uses them to perpetrate brutal terrorist attacks.” DJI has opposed laws like this in the past and also opposes this bill. DJI’s past efforts to oppose bans like this have been supported by U.S. police agencies that have argued there are no comparable cost-effective drones available from U.S. manufacturers.
Security expert on Chinese threats, Eric Sayer of Beacon Global Strategies said, “This bill would prohibit the federal government from using American taxpayer dollars to purchase this equipment from countries like China, supporting the PRC’s malign behavior and posing a serious national security threat to the U.S. and our allies. It is imperative that Congress pass this bipartisan bill to protect U.S. interests and our national security supply chain.” This bill is an example of lawmakers’ efforts to prevent Chinese technology from being used in ways that diminish U.S. national security. And, perhaps more importantly, to halt reliance on Chinese-made technology. As Sayers also said, “The lesson here is we must identify and prevent critical dependencies on the PRC before they emerge, burrow in our economy, and become politically and financially expensive to reverse.”