TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Vietnamese netizens were incensed last week after they discovered that a Chinese-made drone-flying app contained a map with the disputed nine-dash line over the South China Sea.
On Nov. 9, a member of an online group for Flycam drone users posted screenshots of a map from an app showing the nine-dash line, a boundary that Vietnam does not recognize. The app was identified as DJI Fly, which is made by SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd., popularly known as DJI.
The app can be used to operate aerial drones such as DJI Mini 2, Mavic Air 2, and Mavic Mini aircraft on both iOS and Android platforms. Hanoi Times cited a Vietnamese user identified as Quang Nobi as stating that it was the first time he had seen the contentious boundary markers appear on the app.
Another user, Hung Phong, wrote that the dashed line had suddenly appeared at some point within the last two to three days. Angered Vietnamese netizens quickly retaliated for the perceived political statement by giving the app one-star reviews in Vietnamese on the App Store and Google Play.
Users of the Facebook page for Flycam drones soon inundated the page with photos of one-star reviews for DJI. The nine-dash line displayed on the map not only encompasses vast swaths of the South China Sea claimed by Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines, but it also includes Taiwan as China's territory.
The app's latest version, DJI Fly 1.2, was released on Nov. 5 and has seen over one million downloads. As of March of this year, the Shenzhen-based company controlled 70 percent of the global drone market.
Over the course of the past year, several U.S. government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Justice, banned the use of DJI drones on security grounds. As early as 2017, the U.S. Army first announced a ban on DJI drones and in 2018 extended the ban across the military, yet the Air Force purchased dozens of drones in November of this year, raising hackles in the Senate.
(Image submitted by reader)