An alleged Chinese ‘espionage’ balloon spotted hovering over Montana in early January, 2023. (Photo credit: AP)
According to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report released on 4 February, Washington is contemplating a renewal of sanctions against Chinese surveillance firms, which WSJ says Iran relies on to ‘crack down on protests.’
This is despite the fact that Iran has developed its own ‘sophisticated’ surveillance system, according to a recent report by US media outlet, the National Interest.
“US authorities are in advanced discussions on the sanctions … and have zeroed in on Tiandy Technologies Co., a surveillance-equipment maker based in the eastern Chinese city of Tianjin whose products have been sold to units of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC),” WSJ quoted officials as saying.
The report says that Beijing’s customs data shows record that filming equipment to the Islamic Republic increased significantly in 2022, around the same time protests and riots began raging across the country following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September.
“Iran’s security forces are now planning to use Chinese technologies to detect and punish women who don’t wear the veil,” the report claims, citing an unnamed Iranian official and advisor to the IRGC.
The US State Department has declined a request for comment on the possibility of sanctions against Chinese surveillance firms, but said that it would not hesitate to hold “persons and entities accountable” for endorsing ‘Iranian human rights violations,’ according to a statement emailed to WSJ.
The US Treasury Department and China’s Tiandy Technologies Co. have both also declined requests for comment.
The report comes in the wake of a significant decline in protests across Iran, as admitted recently by a number of US media outlets, including WSJ, which claimed on 31 January that the protests have mainly been replaced by “quiet acts of rebellion,” referring to premeditated, armed attacks against members of Iran’s security forces – which became a trend quickly into the protest movement.
Iran has repeatedly condemned western powers and their allies, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, for attempting to destabilize the country through misinformation campaigns and aggressive covert activities.
The 4 February report by WSJ also comes on the heels of a planned trip by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to China, which was cancelled over an alleged ‘Chinese spy balloon’ that was discovered hovering over nuclear sites in the state of Montana in the last two days.
The Chinese balloon was shot down by the military on the east coast of the US on 4 February.
In a statement, Beijing said that the balloon was a ‘civilian airship’ used for meteorological purposes, which mistakenly and regrettably entered US airspace.