Washington Examiner: Jon Tester demands crackdown on China acquiring US technology after Chinese spy balloon

by Misty Severi

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) demanded on Wednesday that the United States crack down on the Chinese Communist Party obtaining U.S. technology after a spy balloon infiltrated U.S. airspace earlier this year.

In a joint letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Tester demanded answers on reports that China used American-made technology in its spy program.

“I write with my deep concerns about the reports indicating that the Chinese spy balloon first spotted by Americans over Montana relied on American-made technology,” Tester wrote. “This brazen act highlights the importance of real and effective measures to stop the Chinese Communist Party from obtaining our American-made and taxpayer funded technology to undermine our national security.”

The spy balloon, which Beijing insisted at the time was a weather balloon blown off course, was composed of American technology that helped it collect audio-visual information, the Wall Street Journal reported last month.

Defense officials have assured the U.S. that the balloon did not obtain U.S. intelligence during its flight over the country. The military shot the balloon down once it reached the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of the Carolinas.

Tester encouraged the secretaries to investigate what actions are needed to ensure the Chinese do not obtain U.S. technology in the future and to investigate how U.S. technology ended up with the Chinese government, including identifying who was responsible for the acquisition.

“While I am pleased that the Department of Commerce formally restricted several Chinese entities with ties to the country’s military from obtaining American technologies, I expect that further measures need to be taken,” the senator added.

Tester did not include a timeline for the investigation or response but said he “stand[s] ready” to help the departments obtain additional clearance from Congress.

Tension between Beijing and Washington, D.C., has been high in recent months amid aggressive Chinese military maneuvers in the Pacific region, the investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, the spy balloon incident, and other negative interactions.

To reduce the tension, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Yellen have traveled to Beijing in recent weeks.