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US Policies Put Chinese Drone Maker’s Operations in a Spin

North American operations of Chinese drone giant DJI Technology have been hit by staff cuts and resignations, ending what was one of its most successful divisions

US citizens have been banned from investing in drone-maker DJI and about a dozen other Chinese firms which were added to a Defence Department blacklist this week. Reuters file photo.


(AF) The North American operations of Chinese drone giant DJI Technology have been hit by staff cuts and resignations, upending what was one of the company’s most successful divisions, according to a March 8 report.

Washington’s trade curbs on high-profile Chinese companies such as DJI have created problems for the company and threaten to erode its dominance of the drone market.

Some key managers have joined rivals, while about a third of DJI’s 200 employees in its three US offices have been let go, Reuters quoted former and current employees as saying.

DJI, a privately held company founded and run by billionaire Frank Wang, said it made the difficult decision to reduce staffing in Palo Alto to reflect the company’s “evolving needs”.

The Shenzhen-based company said its North American sales were growing strongly despite the cutbacks and what it termed misinformation created by rivals.


‘Robust Data Security’

“Despite misleading claims from competitors, our enterprise customers understand how DJI products provide robust data security,” the company said in a statement.

“Despite gossip from anonymous sources, DJI is committed to serving the North American market,” it added.

DJI, which has become a symbol of Chinese innovation since it was founded in 2006, is one of dozens of companies caught in the crossfire of trade and diplomatic hostilities between Washington and Beijing, like Huawei and Bytedance.

Donald Trump, the former US president, in January signed an executive order directing government agencies to prioritise removing Chinese-made drones from their fleets and to assess any security risks.

Deployment of drones, however, is growing worldwide, with a range of multinational companies from Vodafone to AIN offering innovations in recent weeks.

Tokyo-based AIN is testing drones for the automated delivery of prescription medications, while UK-based Vodafone recently deployed its precision positioning technology to remotely track a drone to within just 10 centimetres of its location.


• With reporting by Reuters

Note: This report was upgraded on March 30, 2022 to meet new style standards.




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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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