The US Department of Commerce is planning to impose sanctions on 89 Chinese aerospace firms, including aircraft manufacturers AVIC and COMAC, for their alleged military ties, Reuters has reported.

The news agency saw a draft list of sanctions, although the representatives of the US administration refused to comment or acknowledge the plan. According to the draft, the sanctions would be motivated by "national security interest".

If enacted, the sanctions would substantially hinder COMAC's and AVIC's access to Western technology, deemed to make the production of all of their commercial aircraft temporarily unviable. Besides multiple other components, all currently produced models are powered by Western-made engines. COMAC's flagship type, the C919, is equipped with CFM International LEAP-1C engines, while its regional aircraft, the ARJ21-700, sports General Electric CF34-10A powerplants. The MA-60s and the MA-600s, produced by AVIC's subsidiary Xian Aircraft Company, are outfitted with Pratt & Whitney Canada turboprop units, as is the Y12 produced by another AVIC's subsidiary, the Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that Beijing was "firmly opposed" to the move, which it would see as a severe violation of market principles.

If imposed, the sanctions would not ban the export of any components to China outright but would require all US-based manufacturers to apply for export permits. According to US law, these requests would be more likely to be rejected than approved. The ban would not directly impact engines manufactured outside the US.

To enter into force before the assumption of office by the incoming US President Joe Biden, the sanctions would have to be formally notified by mid-December.