House GOP Demands DOJ Probe into Chinese DJI Drone Lobbying Activities

Lawmakers Target DJI for Alleged Propaganda Campaign

House Republicans Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) and John Moolenaar (R., Mich.) are pushing for a DOJ investigation into an advocacy group they claim is a front for DJI, a Chinese military-linked drone company. The lawmakers argue that the Drone Advocacy Alliance should be registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), reports The National Review.

Allegations of Disinformation and Propaganda

Stefanik and Moolenaar allege that the Drone Advocacy Alliance is running a Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-led disinformation campaign in the U.S.

The lawmakers' letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland states, “The Drone Advocacy Alliance is facilitating a CCP-led disinformation and propaganda campaign targeting Americans – activity that meets the threshold of political activities as defined under the FARA statute and regulations.”

FARA vs. Domestic Lobbying Laws

DJI's lobbyists have registered under domestic lobbying laws, which have less stringent reporting requirements than FARA. FARA mandates detailed disclosures, including lobbyist contacts and financial transactions. Historically, the DOJ has not enforced FARA registration for Chinese firm lobbyists, allowing them to skirt these requirements.

DJI's Military and Surveillance Ties

DJI was listed by the Pentagon in 2022 as a Chinese military company due to its support of the People's Liberation Army. The Treasury Department has also blacklisted DJI for its involvement in the CCP's surveillance state in Xinjiang, where Uyghurs face genocide. Concerns exist that DJI data in the U.S. could be accessed or controlled by Chinese authorities.

Drone Advocacy Alliance supported DJI

The Drone Advocacy Alliance states on its website to be a “non-partisan, drone-agnostic grassroots advocacy coalition.”

The alliance “is sponsored by and its website maintained by DJI Technology, Inc. in partnership with the drone community. However, the Alliance does not endorse one drone manufacturer over another, and its partners represent a wide variety of industry stakeholders.”

The Drone Advocacy Alliance website encourages individuals to contact lawmakers using template letters, to “support policies that spur innovation and competition within the U.S. without restricting access to the market based on country of origin.”

Lobbying Efforts and Congressional Actions

DJI has lobbied fiercely against legislation restricting its products, using connections with local law enforcement to influence Congress. Despite these efforts, Congress passed a ban on federal government use of DJI products last year.

Stefanik and Moolenaar conclude, “Americans deserve heightened transparency when entities are lobbying Congress and the public in a campaign to prop up a CCP spy tool that facilitates genocide and arms the PLA.”

DroneXL's Take

Affordable and capable drones, like those from DJI, are vital in disaster response, providing real-time data and supporting missions. While security concerns should be taken seriously, it's essential to weigh these against the significant benefits of this technology. Implementing a set of security standards for all drone manufacturers, rather than banning products based on their country of origin, can ensure drones continue to serve the public good while maintaining national security.


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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One comment

  1. Elise Stefanik is a political hack who is trying to “get tough” with China while fundraising off paranoid ignorance. She is the problem not DJI.

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