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China curbs exports of drone-related equipment amid U.S. tech tensions

China on Monday announced export controls on some drone-related equipment amid escalating tensions with the United States over access to technology.

China’s Commerce Ministry said in a statement the restrictions on equipment, including some drone engines, lasers, communication equipment and anti-drone systems, would take effect from Sept. 1.

It said the controls were aimed at “safeguarding national security and interests.”

They come after Beijing also announced export controls on some metals widely used in chipmaking in early July, following moves by the United States to restrict China’s access to key technologies such as chipmaking equipment.

China has a big drone manufacturing industry and exports to several markets, including the U.S.

U.S. lawmakers have said that over 50% of drones sold in the U.S. are made by the Chinese-based company DJI, and they are the most popular drone used by public safety agencies.

DJI did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how it might be affected by the export controls.

China’s Commerce Ministry said in April that U.S. and Western media were spreading “unfounded accusations” that it was exporting drones to the battlefield in Ukraine, adding the reports were an attempt to “smear” Chinese firms and the country would continue to strengthen export controls on drones.

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