US sanctions six Chinese entities over balloon programme


FBI special agents assigned to the evidence response team process material recovered from the high altitude balloon recovered off the coast of South Carolina (FBI via AP, File)

The United States government has sanctioned six Chinese entities it said were linked to Beijing’s aerospace programmes as part of its retaliation over an alleged Chinese spy balloon that traversed US airspace.

The economic restrictions followed a pledge by Joe Biden’s administration to consider broader efforts to address Chinese surveillance activities and will make it more difficult for the five companies and one research institute to obtain American technology exports.

The move is likely to further escalate the diplomatic row between the US and China sparked by the balloon, which was shot down last weekend off the Carolina coast.

The US said the balloon was equipped to detect and collect intelligence signals, but Beijing insists it was a weather craft that had blown off course.

The incident prompted US secretary of state Antony Blinken to abruptly cancel a high-stakes trip to Beijing aimed at easing tensions.

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