The year is far from over and, as far as the current US government is concerned, there is still plenty of time for actions that have long-lasting effects. One of those is expanding the US’ notorious “Entity List” to include not just SMIC, China’s largest chipmaker, but also, surprisingly, popular drone company DJI. That said, the latter was already rumored to be on the country’s hit list, giving it time to make a bold response assuring customers in the country that they will still be able to buy DJI’s products as normal.
Being put on the US’ Entity List is often seen as a death sentence for a company, especially after Huawei’s high-profile struggles since last year. In a nutshell, American companies are forbidden from doing business with companies on that list. The exact repercussions of that on DJI’s business and manufacturing is still unknown at this point.
What is known, or at least what DJI itself is saying, is that customers in the US can still buy DJI drones, gimbals, and accessories. This is in contrast to Huawei’s situation, although the phone maker did voluntarily leave the US market even before the hammer fell. Whether the US government agrees with this interpretation is likewise unknown.
Although it doesn’t come as a complete surprise, DJI’s addition to the Entity List is still a bit puzzling. The reason that was officially given isn’t directly tied to China’s surveillance, unlike Huawei and ZTE, and more for enabling human rights abuses in the country, activities contrary to US foreign policies. DJI naturally disagrees with that decision.
In contrast, SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation) has long been rumored to be next. The company’s involvement with the Chinese government’s activities is more direct, presuming they are true, of course. SMIC also happened to be one of Huawei’s possible options having lost access to Qualcomm’s chips.