Amendment To Assess Chinese Spy Balloon
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, who is leading the Senate’s bipartisan investigation into the Chinese spy balloon that was first spotted over Montana in February, has announced he will offer a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual must-pass defense bill, to assess commercially available technology that can and is being used in foreign espionage programs.
“This brazen incursion of the Chinese Spy Balloon into U.S. airspace was unacceptable, and we can’t let it happen again,” said Tester. “I was disturbed to learn the Chinese Communist Party took advantage of American technology during the incursion, and we need a full accounting of any and all commercially available technology that is being turned on Americans in foreign espionage programs. Montanans want answers and the assurance this won’t happen again, and this provision is a step in the right direction.”
Tester’s bipartisan amendment also mandates a report to Congress on the threat assessment and directs the Departments of Commerce, State, and Treasury to use that report when modifying export controls to ensure American-made technology cannot make its way to the hands of the Chinese government.
Last week, Tester called on the Biden Administration to immediately investigate how the spy balloon used American- made technology, writing: “The fact that the Chinese Communist Party was able to use our technology in their spy program is extremely troubling and must be immediately analyzed. This is a clear demonstration that our current defense and technology export controls may not be adequately preventing or dissuading adversaries from using our own technology against us. I expect this Administration, and the individual departments you oversee, to take whatever necessary action is required to bolster our export controls so that this doesn’t happen again.”
As chair of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, Tester continues to lead oversight efforts around the Chinese spy balloon, including boosting the military’s budget to ensure the Pentagon has the tools it needs to better prevent these evolving threats. This spring, Tester brought Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and top Air Force leadership to Malmstrom Air Force Base and the Montana Air National Guard’s 120th Airlift Wing to meet directly with servicemembers and receive updates on Malmstrom’s response to the Chinese spy balloon.