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US blacklists six Chinese entities over balloon program

February 11, 2023

The Biden administration has added six Chinese entities linked to Beijing's "spy balloon" program to an export blacklist.

The remnants of a large balloon drift above the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of South Carolina, with a fighter jet and its contrail seen below it
The balloon which drifted over the United States last week caused political outrage in Washington Image: Chad Fish/AP/picture alliance

The United States Commerce Department has added six Chinese entities connected to Beijing's suspected surveillance balloon program to an export blacklist.

The department on Friday said that the five companies and one research institute were supporting "China's military modernization efforts, specifically the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) aerospace programs including airships and balloons."

The move came a day after US lawmakers unanimously criticized Beijing's use of a suspected spy balloon that flew over North America last week.

The new curbs also come after the White House said it would consider broader efforts to "expose and address" China's larger surveillance activities that threaten US national security and allies.

What the blacklist entails

The blacklist means it would be harder for the targeted companies to obtain US tech exports.

"The (People's Republic of China's) use of high-altitude balloons violates our sovereignty and threatens US national security," Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security, Alan Estevez, said in a statement on Friday.

"Today's action makes clear that entities that seek to harm US national security and sovereignty will be cut off from accessing US technologies," he said.

'China continually undermines a rules-based order'

The six entities include:

  • Beijing Nanjiang Aerospace Technology Co
  • China Electronics Technology Group Corporation 48th Research Institute
  • Dongguan Lingkong Remote Sensing Technology Co
  • Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group Co
  • Guangzhou Tian-Hai-Xiang Aviation Technology Co
  • Shanxi Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group Co

The sight of the Chinese balloon drifting over the US led to a political uproar in Washington, bringing into focus the challenges China posed to the United States and its allies.

The Commerce Department said the six entities supported the modernization of China's PLA and its aerospace programs including airships and balloons.

"The PLA is utilizing High Altitude Balloons for intelligence and reconnaissance activities," said the listing posted for the Federal Register, the official US daily journal.

China has, however, said that the balloon was a "civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological purposes."

dvv/kb (AFP, Reuters)