By: Denise Simon | Founders Code
It went with almost zero attention that our US Commerce Department added a handful of companies to a so-called Entity List last week, restricting them from obtaining US technologies in a move blasted by Beijing on Monday as “illegal unilateral sanctions,” almost as soon as the first balloon was shot out of the sky off the coast of South Carolina. Now, just exactly how did our officials know to do that so fast? Now we have to wonder why Treasury has not done the same.
At least someone was paying attention and knew of Zhe Wu and his work… yet no other part of any federal agency or any part of the military was on their game for the last several years?
Okay… sounds about right.
Beijing Nanjiang Aerospace Technology
Established in 2015, Beijing Nanjiang is controlled by a subsidiary of Shanghai-listed real estate company Deluxe Family Co Ltd, which also invests in materials and robotics projects.
The state-run Science and Technology Daily in 2015 hailed the firm’s development of a large silver helium airship as the country’s first “new near-space platform with capabilities for both military and surveillance use”.
State media said the company’s steerable, reusable and continuously powered airship was equipped with broadband communications and “high-definition observation” gear.
China Electronics Technology Group Corporation 48th Research Institute
Part of a state-owned IT giant, the research institute specialises in building power systems and solar energy components, as well as semiconductor equipment.
The institute has worked to develop flexible solar power cells suitable for both military and civilian aircraft, the China National Space Administration said in a document in 2017.
Parent company China Electronics Technology Group Corporation also funds Hikvision, a surveillance camera maker that has been implicated in intensified monitoring of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang.
Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group Co
Founded by military aircraft expert Wu Zhe, the group specialises in research and development of stealth aircraft technologies.
Eagles Men is “devoted to becoming a benchmark business for China’s (strategy of) military-civil fusion”, according to the company’s profile page on the official Chinese Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics website.
The company in 2013 filed a patent for making airship skins stronger.
Wu told state media in 2019 that his team had developed a stratospheric airship able to “fly around the globe”.
Dongguan Lingkong Remote Sensing Technology Co
Set up in 2019, the company counts among its investors a branch of the state-run Beihang University, as well as Eagles Men Aviation.
Public records show Dongguan Lingkong has received licences from local market supervisors to conduct research on remote sensing technology, which allows aircraft to detect conditions on the ground from a high altitude.
Guangzhou Tian-Hai-Xiang Aviation Technology Co
The company was originally established by the Chinese military to develop “vehicle-mounted unmanned reconnaissance aircraft”, according to its official website.
Specialising in surveillance drones, the company was reorganised in 2006 with its current name and under the control of military veteran Li Yuzhuang.
Tian-Hai-Xiang says it has received multiple defence science awards, with its website boasting that the company was “the first unit in the domestic drone industry to equip our military’s first digitalised troops”.
Shanxi Eagles Men Aviation Science and Technology Group Co
A wholly owned subsidiary of Eagles Men Aviation, the company was set up in 2012 with a focus on chemical products, according to Chinese business database Tianyancha.
As reported in part from The Wire:
On an October morning in 2007, Wu Zhe, an aircraft design expert at Beihang University, gave a lecture about the “military value of balloons.” He described why it was an area of key scientific research for China and explained different solutions for powering these unique aircraft. When he concluded, according to a university press release, his “erudite knowledge and brilliant speech” received multiple rounds of applause.
Nearly two decades later, Wu and his business partner, a tech investor and executive named Wang Dong, are at the center of a military-linked program that has sent balloons over the U.S. and other nations, setting off a diplomatic crisis in Washington. After days of intense media coverage, on February 4, the U.S. shot down one Chinese balloon off the coast of South Carolina, and has since shot down three more unidentified objects floating in American and Canadian airspace.
On Friday, the Commerce Department announced that they were leveling sanctions against six Chinese companies involved in the balloon program — which U.S. officials say aims to intercept communications and surveil the ground below, including sensitive military sites.
Records show that Wu and Wang are linked to four of the six sanctioned firms. The two men, according to data from WireScreen, have a complex network of companies involved in balloon and aerospace technologies, some of which are closely affiliated with the Chinese military but are not sanctioned by the U.S. government.
In a statement on Friday about the sanctions, Alan F. Estevez, the under secretary of commerce for industry and security, said that “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.” Neither of the two Chinese men, through their companies, responded to requests for comment.
Zhe Wu has published at least 23 scholarly papers of his work and they are found here… quite chilling actually. For instance: (note the date)
Hovering control for a stratospheric airship in unknown wind
- Zewei Zheng, Ming Zhu, Dalong Shi, Zhe Wu
- 13 January 2014
A novel hovering control methodology for a stratospheric airship is presented by using path following approach in the presence of unknown wind by expressing the wind field in the state equation, which avoids the difficulty of guaranteeing system stability in strong wind for other stabilization methods.
The New York Times published a very recent piece with further context.
In late 2022,
Mystery airship spotted over Philippines near South China Sea
- Images of an unidentified craft near Subic Bay have sparked speculation it could have been collecting military intelligence
- There is no evidence the airship was from China, though its design appears similar to types on display at the Zhuhai air show
Images of the stratospheric airship – allegedly taken in Pangasinan province, about 100km (62 miles) from Subic Bay in the northern Philippine island of Luzon – were first posted on Facebook last weekend. The pictures were deleted, but not before they were also shared on Twitter.
There is no evidence that the airship was from China, although its design appears to be similar to several unmanned types developed by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China’s Special Aircraft Research Institute and other scientific academies.
We hear that the objects in the airspace of North America were cylindrical.
Could it be? Below reported from Poland in reference to the same object.
I have asked several out there smarter than me about the connection of the objects with clustered ground hubs… or if ground hubs were dropped by the balloon or objects… I did not need an answer. Seems there are several that have the answers and we are collaborating AGAIN with China?
An Observation Scheduling Approach Based on Task Clustering for High-Altitude Airship
by Jiawei Chen, Oizhang Luo and Guohua Wu.
1 School of Computational Science and Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
2 School of Traffic & Transportation Engineering, Central South University, Changsha 410075, China
3 Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119260, Singapore
You be the judge.