China’s drone owners will have to register with the government from next year under new rules aimed at improving public safety and national security.
The first national regulations on drones – published on Wednesday– also ban people from using the devices to take pictures or video of military or defence industrial installations or secretive facilities. Drones cannot be used to gather and publish state secrets or unlawfully transfer information outside mainland China.
The Interim Regulations for Managing Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle Flights also bans non-Chinese drones and pilots who are not Chinese nationals from using the vehicles for surveying land.
“Serious offences” could lead to deportation, the rules say. Under existing Chinese law, publishing geographical information on China without state permission is illegal.
The rules address potential dangers brought on by the rapid proliferation of drones in fields such as defence, agriculture and scientific research, a spokesperson for both the justice ministry and the state air traffic office said, according to Chinese state media outlets on Thursday.
“Uncrewed aerial vehicles have been interrupting flights, injuring people when control is lost, and harming the rights of others by secret filming,” the spokesperson said. “These problems are becoming more apparent and threaten aviation safety, public safety and national security. The risks must not be ignored.”