Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden counts high-level staffers – Senior Spokesman for Biden Inaugural Committee Matt Hill and Director of State Communication Meira Bernstein – as alumni of the Global Strategy Group: a consulting firm that represents Chinese Communist Party-linked drone company DJI.
In contrast, the Trump administration had moved to blacklist the firm from operating in the U.S. alongside a host of Chinese Communist Party-linked companies.
Since 2017, China-based DJI has been identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as “selectively targeting government and privately owned entities within these sectors to expand its ability to collect and exploit sensitive U.S. data.” These fears prompted the U.S. Department of Interior to ground its entire fleet of DJI drones, “citing increasing concerns about the national security risk from Chinese manufacturers.”
The Department of Defense and U.S. Army have also followed suit.
Despite these concerns, the Biden campaign felt comfortable hiring two individuals who previously worked for a consulting group that lobbied on behalf of the company: Global Strategy Group.
The firm lists DJI as one of its technology-sector “clients” alongside Facebook, Google, and Twitter.
Hill, who served as Biden’s Deputy National Press Secretary, during the campaign and is now a Senior Spokesperson for his Inaugural Committee, worked as an Associate at Global Strategy group from 2016 to 2018. Hill also served as an intern for then-Vice President Biden, describing himself as “help[ing] guide Vice President Joe Biden’s communications strategy.”
Additionally, Director of State Communications during the campaign, Meira Bernstein, was an Associate at Global Strategy Group from 2013 to 2014 before being being promoted to Senior Associate from 2014 to 2015.
Evidently, Hill and Bernstein had no issue affiliating with DJI – a company that routinely complies with data sharing requests from the Chinese Communist Party.
The New York Times reported on a 2016 DJI press briefing in China where company spokesman Zhang Fanxi described how DJI “is complying with requests from the Chinese government to hand over data”:
“In a briefing for Chinese and foreign journalists at DJI’s headquarters in Shenzhen on Wednesday, Zhang Fanxi, a spokesman for the company, said it was still working out how to deal with the data it collects in China. But for now, he said, DJI is complying with requests from the Chinese government to hand over data.”
While the Trump administration and its allies such as Rep. Matt Gaetz have cracked down on the Chinese company, there’s a chance a Biden administration could reverse the progress that has been made.