Just as Washington is readying to sign its so-called "phase one" trade deal with Beijing, a U.S. government department is grounding the use of all of its drones on security worries because some of them are made at least partly in China.
The Department of the Interior could 'permanently' stop flying its fleet of some 1,000 drones on fears they might be potentially used by China for spying, according to a story in the Financial Times. The department's secretary, David Bernhardt, has yet to give the final OK, according to the report, which said that some officials believe he will allow their use in emergencies such as forest fires.
The move comes a couple years after the Army reportedly directed troops to stop using Chinese-made DJI drones for the same reason.
The Dept. of Interior in October moved to temporarily stop using hundreds of drones typically used for monitoring wildlife and mapping, according to the newspaper.
A spokesperson for DJI told the Financial Times that it has yet to see the Department of Interior's policy, but that there's a "lack of credible evidence" to support such a move.
Also in advance of the signing of the trade negotiations later this week, a team of U.S. officials are planning to urge policy makers in Britain to avoid using equipment made by Huawei Technologies as it upgrades to 5G communications networks, according to a report in Reuters.
Intellectual property and technology transfer reforms are among the promised changes included in the phase-one deal, which is slated to be signed by both nations on Wednesday.