China Announces Export Controls on Drones

    China Announces Export Controls on Drones
    Last updated Jul 31, 2023
    Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


    • The PRC government announced Monday that it's imposing export controls on some civilian drones and drone-related equipment to protect "national security and interests."
    • China will prohibit the export of some long-range drone technology, engines, lasers, communication equipment, and anti-drone systems beginning Sept. 1.
    • China's Ministry of Commerce cited Russia's war in Ukraine and numerous reports that both sides in the conflict use Chinese-made drones for reconnaissance — and potentially attacks — as the reasons for these restrictions.
    • There will be restrictions on the use of drones that can fly beyond the line of sight of operators or stay aloft for more than 30 minutes. There are also curbs on attachments that can throw objects, and weigh more than seven kilograms (15½ pounds).
    • China is a leading developer and exporter of drones, with a large percentage of the US drone market being supplied by Chinese manufacturers. According to US lawmakers, over 50% of drones being sold in the US are made by PRC-based firm DJI.
    • Several Chinese agencies issued a notice on Monday stating that the temporary export controls on certain Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) would not exceed two years.


    Pro-China narrative

    As a leading and responsible exporter of civilian drones, China must restrict the export of civilian long-range UAV technology to prevent the technology from falling into the wrong hands. Export control has become necessary due to frequent reports that civilian drones have been converted into military use on the Russia-Ukraine battlefield.

    Anti-China narrative

    Restricting the export of these UAVs is long overdue from Beijing. Quadcopters have been a concern for the Pentagon since early in the Ukrainian war. Despite a widespread Western pressure campaign intended to restrain Russia’s ability to continue the war, the Kremlin has effectively been using these PRC-made drones to target Ukrainian forces, smuggled into Russia by third parties.

    Establishment split



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