Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US Department of Interior grounds Chinese-made drones



US Department of Interior grounds Chinese-made drones

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A Mavic Pro 2 drone made by the Chinese company DJI. AFP

US Department of Interior grounds Chinese-made drones

The US Department of the Interior has grounded its fleet of Chinese-made drones as it conducts a review of the programme.

Nick Goodwin, an Interior Department spokesman, did not provide a reason for the decision but it comes amid US security concerns over Chinese electronics.

Goodwin said the review had been ordered by Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt.

“Until this review is completed, the Secretary has directed that drones manufactured in China or made from Chinese components be grounded,” he said.

Exceptions would be made for drones that are being used for emergency purposes such as fighting wildfires, search and rescue, and dealing with natural disasters, Goodwin said.

According to sources familiar with the programme, the Interior Department has a fleet of 810 drones, almost all built by Chinese companies.

Only 24 are US-made and even those have Chinese electronic components, the sources said.

The US Department of Homeland Security issued a warning in May that Chinese-made drones could pose a security risk.

The US has also taken steps against China’s Huawei by effectively banning American companies from selling or transferring US technology to the Chinese telecoms giant.

US intelligence believes Huawei is backed by the Chinese military and that its equipment could provide Beijing with a backdoor into the communications networks of other countries.

China’s foreign ministry said Friday that it was “still seeking further understanding of the specific situation” but called for the US to provide a “non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies”.

“We urge the US to stop abusing the concept of national security, stop exaggerating the so-called China threat, and stop oppressing Chinese companies without reason,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing.

The Chinese company DJI produces about 70 per cent of the world’s commercial drones.

“We’re very disappointed,” a DJI spokeswoman said, adding that the company had no other comment for now.

The Pentagon has banned the military from using DJI drones for security reasons since 2017.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and