Chinese Drone Maker, Blacklisted by U.S., Dominates Market

Nessa Anwar | CNBC

The world’s biggest drone maker, DJI, is one of many companies that has found its products used on the battlefield during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. DJI’s meteoric rise is an impressive feat for a Chinese brand – one of the few that has succeeded on the global stage.

Drones of several varieties have been used on the battlefield during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including makes from DJI.

The global drone market is expected to grow from $30.6 billion in 2022 to $55.8 billion by 2030, according to a report by Drone Industry Insights. DJI dominates more than 70% of that market.

DJI’s first commercially successful product was the Phantom drone, which DJI founder Frank Wang claims made DJI the first company to bring “military-grade technology” to the public.

“The unfortunate thing is that (DJI drones are) very reliable. So, it’s become a product of choice, even for those who want to use a drone inappropriately,” Adam Welsh, DJI’s Head of Global Policy, told CNBC.

A recent controversy around DJI products being used for warfare isn’t the only problem the company has faced.

In December 2021, the Shenzhen-based drone maker was placed on an investment blacklist by the U.S. government, banning American investors from buying or selling shares in the company.

That move is largely symbolic, however, since DJI is a private company.