US passes bill holding China 'accountable' for balloon incident
The bill emphasizes what Congress believes is an "unacceptable violation of US sovereignty."
In reaction to the passing of an alleged Chinese spy balloon over the United States in February, the US House of Representatives passed legislation calling for export limits and sanctions against China.
The measure, entitled the Upholding Sovereignty of Airspace (USA) Act, was passed by the House on Monday by a vote of 405-6, with a two-thirds majority necessary for approval.
The measure conveys Congress' belief that the presence of a Chinese high-altitude balloon above the United States earlier this year constituted an "unacceptable violation of US sovereignty" and that China's larger balloon surveillance program posed a threat to countries throughout the world. According to the statute, China would be held accountable for the alleged incident.
China asserts that the balloon seen above the US was a civilian airship doing scientific research.
The bill directs the Secretary of State to devise a diplomatic plan to alert friends and partners of the alleged worldwide surveillance balloon operation.
The measure also requires the Secretary of Commerce to consider the transfer of aerospace-related commodities to China, such as airships and balloons, for export control purposes.
Furthermore, the measure asks for the enforcement of sanctions on Chinese people found to be involved in the country's balloon incident.
The US is still examining recovered balloon components after they were shot down over the Atlantic Ocean after crossing the continental US, allegedly to gather intelligence from critical military facilities.
US officials were aware of more 'Chinese spy balloons': Pentagon leaks
US authorities were aware of up to four suspected Chinese spy balloons besides the one that allegedly sailed over the US mainland and was shot down in February, as per leaked top intelligence.
In an unreported event, one balloon allegedly passed above a US carrier strike group located in the Pacific Ocean.
The details originate from documents that, according to Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts air national guard, were allegedly leaked to The Washington Post.
Teixeira, 21, was detained last week and charged with espionage on suspicion of disclosing multiple top-secret papers on a Discord chatroom.