U.S. blacklists China’s top chipmaker and world’s biggest consumer drone company

Foreign Affairs

The U.S. government has added 60 Chinese companies to its growing “Entity List” of organizations, which restricts exports from American firms. But is Washington cutting off its nose to spite its face?

Bye bye DJI
Bye-bye, Chinese drones? A screenshot from DJI.com.

The United States Department of Commerce today added 60 more Chinese companies to its “Entity List,” a blacklist of organizations accused of ties to hostile military forces or of human rights abuses. The new companies on the list include:

  • China’s largest semiconductor manufacturer SMIC, which has been in U.S. government crosshairs for several months
  • Drone manufacturer DJI
  • AGCU Scientech, which provides forensic identification and medical diagnosis services
  • Medical equipment firm China National Scientific Instruments and Materials
  • Kuang-Chi Group, which develops aerospace, artificial intelligence, and digital health technologies

Chinese companies already blacklisted include telecoms equipment giants Huawei and ZTE, and surveillance tech firm Hikvision. The entity list designation forces companies to “seek a special license from the Commerce Department” before U.S suppliers can sell them key goods, per Reuters.  

The new U.S. restrictions may backfire and “help make China great again,” argues tech analyst Dan Wang on Bloomberg, while respected China-watcher Bill Bishop says they are “far more symbolic than substantive,” and calls them “a joke” and the result of a job well done by “tool lobbyists.”  

Zoom employee in China charged

In a separate development, a Zoom employee in China identified as Xinjiang Jin was charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for “disrupting video meetings commemorating the Tiananmen Square Massacre” in May and June.  

China technology scholar Graham Webster commented:

Looks like Zoom’s…China law enforcement liaison was not surrounded by processes that could have prevented this alleged abuse. Having a point person for China compliance likely unavoidable. Giving them the unchecked power implied here is not.  

But there’s pushback on other U.S. moves against Chinese companies

Not everyone in Washington, D.C., is on board with the Trump administration’s multi-pronged attacks on Chinese companies: The United States Treasury Department is “seeking to water down” an executive order from U.S. President Donald Trump that bars Americans from investing in Chinese companies with suspected ties to Beijing’s military, according to the Financial Times.