US imposes sanctions on 6 Chinese companies over spy balloon programs

The United States has blacklisted six Chinese entities it found to have supported Beijing’s surveillance balloon programs after one such balloon hovered over the United States for a week collecting intelligence.

In a statement released on Feb. 10, the Commerce Ministry identified five companies and a research institute involved in efforts to support “aerospace programs including airships and balloons and related materials and components” for the Chinese military, also known as the People’s Liberation Army is (PLA).

The measure will prevent US companies from selling products and technology to the firms without first obtaining government approval.

“The Commerce Department will have no hesitation in continuing to use the Entity List and our other regulatory and enforcement tools to protect U.S. national security and sovereignty,” Assistant Secretary of Commerce Don Graves said. He described the entity list as “a powerful tool to identify and cut off actors attempting to use their access to global markets to wreak havoc and threaten America’s national security.”

Don Graves, Deputy Secretary of Commerce speaks onstage at Paramount On The Vineyard at Martha’s Vineyard Museum on August 17, 2022 in Vineyard Haven, Mass. (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images for Paramount)

The spectacle of a high-altitude balloon twice invading US airspace and traversing the country for a week has sparked outrage in Washington and renewed focus on the threat the Chinese regime poses to the United States and its allies.

Since the balloon crashed on February 4, officials have revealed it is a spying scheme involving 40 countries on five continents. The latest discovery from debris recovery involves the balloon’s ability to collect electronic communications. On February 10, the government said a US military jet shot down another “high-altitude object” of unknown origin flying at 40,000 feet over Alaska.​

The six companies include Beijing Nanjiang Aerospace Technology; 48. Research Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation; Dongguan Lingkong remote sensing technology; Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group and its branch in Shanxi; Shanxi Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group; and Guangzhou Tian-Hai-Xiang Aviation Technology.

In this photo provided by Chad Fish, the remains of a large balloon floats over the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of South Carolina, with a fighter jet and its contrail below on February 4, 2023. (Chad Fish via AP, file)

Beijing Nanjiang Aerospace Technology is a unit of Shanghai-based developer Deluxe Family, which signed a contract with Beihang State University in 2015 and committed 480 million yuan ($70.5 million) to manufacture space airships. A state brokerage firm at the time hailed it as a “classic example of deep civil-military fusion” — the regime’s aggressive national strategy forcing Chinese civilian companies to support its military goals — and expressed optimism about the “broad potential for future ones.” military applications”. come from the project. The partnership produced the country’s first military-civilian stratospheric airship in October of that year, dubbed “Yuanmeng,” meaning “a dream come true.”

Headquartered in Beijing, Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group makes stealth aircraft, virtual reality training simulators and autonomous drones, and has participated in about a dozen government military and aerospace projects. Its products helped secure the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in China, as well as a major military parade in 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Sino-Japanese war victory, according to its website.

Guangzhou Tian-Hai-Xiang Aviation Technology, founded by a Chinese veteran who served in the anti-aircraft artillery unit, produces scout armored vehicles and aircraft for civilian and military use. It has participated in a naval military exercise at the invitation of the armed police and has deployed military drones to assist the Coast Guard in locating and apprehending target ships, its website says.

Dongguan Lingkong Remote Sensing Technology, which is affiliated with Beihang University, is developing stratospheric airships, public registration information shows.