Is China changing its stance on Russia, and quietly beginning to take Ukraine’s side in the war? The answer is of course no, but that’s the startling question I found myself asking – which I would have thought preposterous only a short time ago – because of two surprising pieces of information, both relating to the Chinese commercial drone manufacturer DJI.
Firstly, I heard last week from a reliable source that DJI – whose drones have been used extensively by both Ukraine and Russia – is now allowing the sale of their drones to individuals and companies in Ukraine. Previously, DJI drones had to be purchased illicitly by third parties in countries like Poland, before being transported into Ukraine.
This was interesting, but not much to go on. While I thought it would be very unlikely for DJI to have acted without Chinese government sanction (especially since its government connection is well known and given their products are ‘dual use’), this only led me to wonder whether this was a sign that China was trying to soften criticism in the event of it allowing military drones to be sold to Russia, as the U.S. thought they might. After all, supplying both sides with drones could be a middle course, of sorts.