U.S. blacklists 6 Chinese entities suspected of links to spy balloons
The United States has blacklisted six Chinese entities it said were linked to Beijing’s aerospace programs as part of its retaliation over an alleged Chinese spy balloon that traversed U.S. airspace.
The economic restrictions announced Friday followed the Biden administration’s pledge to consider broader efforts to address Chinese surveillance activities and will make it more difficult for the five companies and one research institute to obtain American technology exports.
The move is likely to further escalate the diplomatic row between the U.S. and China sparked by the balloon, which the U.S. shot down last weekend off the Carolina coast. The U.S. said the balloon was equipped to detect and collect intelligence signals, but Beijing contends that it was a weather craft that had blown off course.
The incident prompted Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to abruptly cancel a high-stakes trip to Beijing aimed at easing tensions.
Five family members were among those rescued Saturday, five days after a major earthquake struck Turkey and Syria.
The U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security said the six entities were being targeted for “their support to China’s military modernization efforts, specifically the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) aerospace programs including airships and balloons.”
“The PLA is utilizing High Altitude Balloons (HAB) for intelligence and reconnaissance activities,” it said.
Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves said on Twitter that his department “will not hesitate to continue to use” such restrictions and other regulatory and enforcement tools “to protect U.S. national security and sovereignty.”
The six entities are Beijing Nanjiang Aerospace Technology Co., China Electronics Technology Group Corp. 48th Research Institute, Dongguan Lingkong Remote Sensing Technology Co., Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group Co., Guangzhou Tian-Hai-Xiang Aviation Technology Co. and Shanxi Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group Co.
The research institute did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The other five entities could not be reached.
On Friday, a U.S. military fighter jet shot down an unknown object off the remote northern coast of Alaska on orders from President Biden. The object was downed because it posed a threat to the safety of civilian flights, not because of suspected spying, U.S. authorities said.
But the twin incidents reflect heightened concerns over China’s surveillance program and public pressure on Biden to take a tough stand against it.
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