PROBE TEAM Federal Bureau of Investigation special agents assigned to the evidence response team process material from the high-altitude balloon that was recovered off the coast of South Carolina at the agency’s laboratory in Quantico, Virginia on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. FBI FILE PHOTO VIA AP

Six China entities blacklisted by US

WASHINGTON, D.C.: The United States Department of Commerce on Friday blacklisted six Chinese entities for supporting Beijing’s military modernization efforts, particularly relating to aerospace programs, including airships and balloons.

The move came a day after American lawmakers unanimously denounced China’s use of a suspected spy balloon that flew over North America last week.

The balloon’s days-long flyover from Alaska to South Carolina captured the attention of regular Americans and officials, before the US military shot it down off the country’s east coast last Saturday.

The incident prompted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to abruptly cancel a high-stakes trip to Beijing aimed at easing tensions between the US and China.

Companies added to the so-called Entity List are restricted from obtaining US items and technologies without government authorization.

“The [People’s Republic of China’s] use of high-altitude balloons violates our sovereignty and threatens US national security,” Alan Estevez, Commerce undersecretary for industry and security, 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 added.

The six companies are 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.; 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.

In a document, the Commerce Department said China’s military was utilizing high-altitude balloons “for intelligence and reconnaissance activities,” adding that this was contrary to US national security and foreign policy interests.

China insists that the balloon was a “civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological purposes.”

But a State Department official has indicated the US believes the balloon to be under the control of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, and is part of a fleet that Beijing has sent over more than 40 countries on five continents to collect intelligence information.

Friday’s action indicates concerted efforts to identify and disrupt China’s use of surveillance balloons, “which have violated the airspace of the United States and more than forty countries,” said Matthew Axelrod, Commerce assistant secretary for export enforcement.

“Export Enforcement will vigilantly monitor and prevent shipments to the listed parties and investigate any efforts to circumvent these restrictions,” he added.


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