Enforcing export controls on high-performance unmanned aerial vehicles with specific military attributes is a common international practice, and the measures are not targeted at any specific country or region, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce said on Monday.
The comments came after the ministry announced export controls on certain types of drones and drone-related equipment including lasers, communication instruments, hyperspectral cameras and anti-drone systems.
The controls, which will take effect on Sept 1, will also affect some consumer drones and no civilian drones can be exported for military purposes, according to two notices issued by the Commerce Ministry.
Noting that these measures follow international practices, the spokesperson said that China has already notified countries and regions concerned.
China has been enforcing export controls on drones since 2002, aligning its scope and technical standards with international norms. However, the rapid advancement of drone technologies and the proliferation of its applications have led to an escalation in the risks associated with certain high-end civilian drones being potentially repurposed for military use, according to the ministry.
"As a major manufacturer and exporter of drones, China has made the decision to moderately expand its export controls on drones based on comprehensive evaluation and assessment. These measures are not targeted at any specific country or region," the ministry said.
The ministry, either on its own or in conjunction with relevant government branches, will conduct a review of the export application documents from the date of receipt before making a decision to grant or deny permission within the prescribed statutory time limit.
"It should be noted that export controls are not bans on exports," the spokesperson said, emphasizing that as long as the drones are used for legitimate civilian purposes and the relevant procedures are followed, regular exports will be allowed.
Commercial drone manufacturer DJI, which is headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, said the company has consistently and firmly opposed the use of its products and technologies for any military purposes. It has never designed or manufactured products and equipment for military use, the company said in a statement on Monday.
"DJI will strictly adhere to the temporary export control policy on drones announced by the Chinese government, ensuring full compliance and conscientiously fulfilling our corporate social responsibilities to use technology for the greater benefit of humanity," the statement said.