The U.S. moved on Friday to blacklist six Chinese entities over allegations of links to China’s aerospace programs and its suspected surveillance balloon program. The economic restrictions imposed by the Biden administration will make it more difficult for the five commercial entities and one research institute to obtain American technology exports.
Some observers believe the move could escalate tensions between the U.S. and China, which have been on the rise due to China’s actions towards Taiwan and the recent spy balloon incident.
The U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security said the 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 White House described the move as being part of a larger effort to address Chinese surveillance activities and protect U.S. national security and sovereignty.
The entities blacklisted by the U.S. include Beijing Nanjing Aerospace Technology, China Electronics Technology Group Corporation 48th Research Institute, Dongguan Lingkong Remote Sensing Technology, Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group, Guangzhou Tian-Hai-Xiang Aviation Technology, and Shanxi Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group.
Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement Matthew Axelrod said, “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.”
The blacklisting of these entities comes after the public news in recent days about the Chinese spy balloon that slowly transited the continental U.S., passing near overhead multiple strategic military installations. The incident prompted Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel a trip to Beijing aimed at improving U.S.-China relations.
The U.S. Air Force shot down the balloon off South Carolina last weekend, and Washington has said it was confident the balloon manufacturer has a “direct relationship” with the PLA.
China’s foreign ministry has said the U.S. overreacted by taking the balloon down, and said that it was a commercial weather balloon that had blown off course. The twin incidents in close succession reflect heightened concerns over China’s surveillance program and public pressure on President Biden to take the matter seriously.
Friday’s actions have recent precedent in the tense relationship with China. The U.S. has previously used the entity blacklist to punish Chinese companies that threaten national security and prevent Beijing from advancing militarily.