In a clear sign of China's industry-leading drone and supercomputer technology, the Communist country has issued new regulations restricting their export to other countries. The new regulations require that Chinese manufacturers of powerful drones and some advanced computers must obtain an export license prior to shipping to other countries. China’s Ministry of Commerce and the General Administration of Customs announced that the regulations will take effect August 15th.
Specifically, drones will require export licenses if they are capable for flying longer than 1 hour. Computers will require a license if they exceed eight teraflops, meaning they can process more than eight trillion calculations per second (about the the processing power of 33 Xbox 360s).
The tightening of drone and supercomputer regulations comes as China hopes to draw the world’s attention to its technological strengths. In the first five months of 2015 alone, China exported more than 160,000 civilian drones, an increase of 70% from the same period in 2014. Those exported drones accounted for more than $120 million in sales. China also hopes to maintain its competitive edge in the supercomputer battle which has long been dominated by the U.S.-Japan rivalry.
The issuance of export regulations also follow some recent international incidents involving drones. In the past few months, unmanned aircraft manufactured and sold by the Chinese company, DJI Technology Co., were flown on the grounds of the White House and onto the roof of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. More recently, political tensions erupted between India and Pakistan after Pakistan’s military tracked and shot down and Indian “spy drone” in the disputed region of Kashmir. The drone appeared to be Chinese made.
In response to China’s technological superiority in drone and supercomputer technology, President Obama issued an executive order for a new initiative entitled, “Creating a national strategic computing initiative.” The project is aimed at creating the world’s fastest supercomputer by 2025.
As of now, it appears that China’s new regulations will have little effect on the economy of China’s bustling consumer drone industry. Currently, few commercial drones can fly for more than an hour and therefore do not require export licenses. Michael Perry, spokesman for DJI, stated that his company’s drones presently have a maximum 25-minute flight time. The new restrictions likely will have a greater effect in the near future as drone technology improves and flight times increase.