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Lawmakers: U.S. helped China research weather balloons before balloon spying incident

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Lawmakers are raising the alarm that ongoing U.S. and Chinese research partnerships are developing technology that could be used against the U.S.

Members of the Select Committee on the CCP sent a letter to Secretary Antony Blinken this week asking the Biden administration to sever the “Agreement Between the United States and the People’s Republic of China on Cooperation in Science and Technology.”

In the letter, committee representatives cited reports that research partnerships between the U.S. and China organized under the Science and Technology Agreement have developed technology that could later be used against Americans.

One of the reported partnerships is between the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and China’s Meteorological Administration. Under the STA’s authority, the groups worked to launch technologically advanced weather balloons to study the atmosphere in 2018.

“As you know, a few years later, the PRC used similar balloon technology to surveil U.S. military sites on U.S. territory,” representatives wrote in the letter.

Chairman on the Select Committee Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., sent the letter to Blinken. Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and eight other members of Congress also signed the letter.

Other reports explained the collaboration between the U.S. and China regarding sensitive agricultural technologies, some of which included “clear dual-use applications, such as […] techniques for analyzing satellite and drone imagery for irrigation management.”

In late December 2022, CCP Chairman Xi Jinping called on the PRC to boost self-reliance in agriculture technology, which committee representatives linked to the more than a dozen active agricultural research projects between the two countries.

“It should come as no surprise that the PRC will exploit civilian research partnerships for military purposes to the greatest extent possible,” the letter said. “The PRC openly acknowledges its practice of military-civil fusion.”

The Science and Technology Agreement is set to expire on Aug. 27 if it is not renewed by the Biden administration.

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