China's spy balloon barrage earns six of its companies a spot on US entity list
US Commerce Department can't just let red balloons go by
The US Department of Commerce added six more entities to its blacklist on Friday on grounds of national security after an errant Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down over the US last week.
The DoC's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) tweeted:
Commerce is adding entities in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to Entity List for supporting military modernization, specifically the People’s Liberation Army’s aerospace programs including airships, balloons, and related components. More here: https://t.co/yBCgWbfCfP— BISgov (@BISgov) February 10, 2023
The State Department warned on Thursday it was considering such action. According to an official, the balloon manufacturer had a direct relationship with China's military and was an approved vendor of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
"The PLA is utilizing High Altitude Balloons (HAB) for intelligence and reconnaissance activities," said [PDF] the Commerce Department in its announcement on the Federal Register.
The additional entities now restricted [PDF] from obtaining US items and technologies without government authorization 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., plus Shanxi Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group Co.
"Designating companies engaged in activities contrary to US national security and foreign policy on the Entity List enables us to screen all exports to them and gives exporters a tool to determine who poses security concerns," explained assistant secretary for export administration Thea D. Rozman Kendler.
"Today's action demonstrates our concerted efforts to identify and disrupt the PRC's use of surveillance balloons, which have violated the airspace of the United States and more than forty countries," added assistant secretary for export enforcement Matthew S. Axelrod.
Inclusion on the USA's Entity List has made business tough for orgs such as Yangtze Memory Technologies Corporation (YMTC), Huawei and others.
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Beijing maintains that the balloon's entry into US airspace was unintentional and due to "force majeure."
But according to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the balloon followed a flight path, and the US did not give any credence to the Chinese argument that the balloon veered off course.
"What we also know is that it could maneuver; that it had propulsion capability and steerage capability and could slow down, speed up; and that it – it was on a path to transit over sensitive military sites," explained Jean-Pierre on Friday.
Jean-Pierre said the White House is now talking to dozens of nations known to have been overflown by Chinese surveillance balloons. The State Department alleged that the balloon was part of a larger military-linked aerial surveillance program.
Another object was shot down on Friday as it flew over Alaska. The small-car-sized item lacked maneuverability and, according to the White House, posed a threat to civilian airspace as it drifted at roughly 40,000 feet. Jean-Pierre said the White House could not confirm if the object was a balloon or if it was China-linked.
"We don't know what entity owns this object. There's no indication that it's from a nation or an institution or an individual. We just don't know," said the press secretary.
On each of Saturday and Sunday other objects that were flying and unidentified (there used to be a name for that …) were taken out of the skies – one over Canada and another over Lake Huron. US authorities have stated they are monitoring for balloons with greater urgency. ®