US Blacklists Six Chinese Companies Over Surveillance Balloon Espionage Program
The United States has blacklisted six Chinese companies over their alleged links to a military-backed global balloon espionage program that resulted in a balloon traversing the US before being shot down last week. The People's Republic of China has responded by threatening Wednesday to take action against U.S. agencies responsible for the destruction and recovery of the surveillance balloon.
The US Commerce Department announced that the six companies support the Chinese government’s “modernization efforts, specifically those related to aerospace programs, including airships and balloons and related materials and components, that are used by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for intelligence and reconnaissance,” the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security said in a statement.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been harshly critical of the U.S. government's conduct in recent weeks, accusing government representatives of turning a sensitive issue into a show. The Department noted that the six companies were included on the list due to their ties to the People’s Liberation Army’s aerospace programs, which encompass airships, balloons and their associated materials and components.
China expressed its opposition to the US ban and promised to take countermeasures in accordance with the law. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin said during a press conference on Wednesday, “The US has abused force, overreacted, escalated the situation, and used this as a pretext to illegally sanction Chinese companies and institutions.”
The US is aiming to protect national security by imposing additional U.S. government oversight on exports of items subject to U.S. jurisdiction and sending a clear message to companies, governments, and other stakeholders globally that the entities on the list present a threat to national security.
Last weekend, U.S. jet fighters shot down a balloon off the coast of South Carolina, according to U.S. officials. The move is likely to increase the tension between the two countries and could result in further countermeasures from China.
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