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China imposes export controls on drones to prevent their military use

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China will impose export controls on some drones and drone-related equipment starting September 1, according to a Reuters report citing a statement by an unnamed representative of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. The restrictions will affect some drone engines, lasers, communication equipment, and anti-drone systems, while the export of civilian drones for military purposes will also be banned.

“China's modest expansion of the scope of its drone control this time is an important measure to demonstrate our stance as a responsible major country, to implement global security initiatives, and maintain world peace,” the unidentified spokesperson told the news agency.

Chinese authorities have already notified concerned countries and regions of the impending restrictions.

The official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Central Committee, Renmin Zhibao, noted that under the new rules, export permits must be obtained for drones with the following characteristics, including:

  • maximum autonomous operation time of over 30 minutes and maximum take-off weight of more than 7 kg;
  • equipped with a throwing device;
  • able to fly beyond the natural visibility of operators;
  • power of airborne radio equipment exceeds the power limit value of international civilian radio product approval and certification.

In April, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce denied reports circulating in Western media that Chinese-manufactured UAVs were being used in battles in Ukraine.

During the spring of 2022, China's DJI Corporation (the world's largest manufacturer of commercial drones) announced that it was leaving both the Russian and Ukrainian markets to prevent its products from being used for military purposes.

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