The U.S. government has moved to sanction six Chinese aerospace companies over their purported involvement in the communist country’s spy balloon program.
The Commerce Department announced the sanctions on Friday, less than a week after the Air Force shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon over the Atlantic Ocean that had traversed the continental U.S.
“The PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] use of high-altitude balloons violates our sovereignty and threatens U.S. national security,” Alan Estevez, undersecretary of commerce for industry and security, said in a statement. “Today’s action makes clear that entities that seek to harm U.S. national security and sovereignty will be cut off from accessing U.S. technologies.”
The six Chinese entities in question will be placed on the Entity List, where trade restrictions are placed on companies that have been determined to jeopardize national security by the Commerce Department.
The Chinese entities in question are Beijing Nanjiang Aerospace Technology, China Electronics Technology Group Corporation 48th Research Institute, Dongguan Lingkong Remote Sensing Technology, Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group, Shanxi Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group, and Guangzhou Tian-Hai-Xiang Aviation Technology.
According to the Epoch Times, several of the companies have developed projects with the Chinese military, and one of them specifically creates stratospheric airships.
“The Commerce Department will not hesitate to continue to use the Entity List and our other regulatory and enforcement tools to protect U.S. national security and sovereignty,” Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves said.
According to Commerce Department official Matthew Axelrod, action against the companies was taken to stop the spread of the Chinese balloon surveillance program.
“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,” he said.
The sanctions come the same day as the Air Force shot down an unidentified object over Alaska, just a week after the Chinese balloon incident. It is unclear if the new object is of Chinese origin or not.
The object was reportedly flying around 40,000 feet, making it a threat to civilian aircraft.
“We have no further details about the object at this time, including any description of its capabilities, purpose, or origin,” said Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder. “The object was about the size of a small car, so not similar in size or shape to the high-altitude surveillance balloon that was taken down off the coast of South Carolina.”