Of Chinese Balloons: Peek Inside the BIS Entity List
Irene Kenyon – February 12, 2023
The news last week was all abuzz about the Chinese spy balloon that made its way across the United States and was finally shot down by US forces off the coast of South Carolina. All my social media contacts all of a sudden became experts on spy balloons, intelligence gathering, and—of course—the operation that shot down the balloon and the subsequent investigation.
I’m not an expert on any of the above, but I became curious about the companies involved in the manufacturing of these devices, given that the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) took quick steps to target six Chinese aerospace companies that support China’s military reconnaissance balloon program, immediately after another “high-altitude object” was shot down by an F-22 on Friday.
The six entities have all been added to the BIS Entity List because the “PLA is utilizing High Altitude Balloons (HAB) for intelligence and reconnaissance activities,” threatening US national security and foreign policy interests. US companies are barred from transacting with these entities without a license from the Commerce Department.
Beijing Nanjiang Aerospace Technology Co., Ltd.;
China Electronics Technology Group Corporation 48th Research Institute;
Dongguan Lingkong Remote Sensing Technology Co., Ltd.;
Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group Co., Ltd. (EMAST);
Guangzhou Tian-Hai-Xiang Aviation Technology Co., Ltd.; and
Shanxi Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group Co., Ltd.
So I decided to do a quick glance at these entities, just to see what I could unearth in a short amount of time.
Beijing Nanjiang Aerospace Technology is apparently owned by an entity called Huali Family Innovation Investment Co., Ltd. An individual named Wang Lixun is the executive director, manager, and legal representative for Huali, according to a Chinese registry, but interestingly, the now-restricted entity doesn’t have a robust online presence.
The 48th Research Institute, however, does have a website, and is involved in the production of electronic components, semiconductors, and other items relevant to what could be a reconnaissance program. Its website, however, refused to connect when I attempted to take a look.
Yangjie Technology last year apparently acquired 40 percent of semiconductor manufacturer, Hunan Chuwei Semiconductor Technology Co., Ltd., from the 48th Research Institute. Neither of the entities is restricted—at least for now—but the document does provide some insight into the 48th Research Institute. It’s main lines of business are listed as “research on semiconductor process equipment and promote the development of electronic technology; research and development of semiconductor micro-processing equipment; research and development of semiconductor thermal equipment; research and development of semiconductor component equipment; research and development of semiconductor furnaces and sensors.”
Don’t be fooled by the name “Research Institute.” The “Military-Civilian Fusion” (MCF) strategy—a Chinese plan to develop the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into a “world class military” by 2049—is reorganizing and controlling science and technology innovation and research to ensure that new innovations simultaneously advance economic and military development, according to the US State Department.
A “research institute” of this sort is more likely than not tied to the PLA and almost certainly part of China’s MCF strategy.
The Dongguan Lingkong Remote Sensing Technology Co., Ltd. vaguely lists “all other business support services” as its line of business.
I was thoroughly amused to find out that I apparently pose a threat to the website when I tried to do a search about it.