Washington: The US intelligence community has linked the Chinese spy balloon to a vast surveillance program run by the People's Liberation Army, and US officials have begun to brief allies and partners who have been similarly targeted, The Washington Post reported.

According to The Washington Post, the surveillance balloon effort, which has operated for several years partly out of Hainan province off China's south coast, has collected information on military assets in countries and areas of emerging strategic interest to China including Japan, India, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines, according to several US officials.

According to officials, the surveillance airships, operated in part by the PLA air force, have been spotted over five continents.

An official said: "What the Chinese have done is taken an unbelievably old technology, and basically married it with modern communications and observation capabilities to try to glean intelligence on other nations' militaries. It's a massive effort."

The New York Times recently reported that, as part of its response to a Chinese spy balloon that traversed US airspace last week, the Joe Biden administration on Friday (local time) clamped down on sales of some of its technology to several Chinese aviation and technology companies.

The Commerce Department added five Chinese companies and one research institute to its so-called entity list, which will prevent companies from selling them American parts and technologies without a special license.

Alan Estevez, the undersecretary of commerce for industry and security, said the action directly responded to the Chinese government's use of high-altitude balloons for surveillance, reported NYT.

"Today's action makes clear that entities that seek to harm US national security and sovereignty will be cut off from accessing US technologies," he said.

The spy balloon's flyover from Alaska to South Carolina captured the attention of regular Americans and officials before the US military shot it down off the country's east coast.