The United States is keeping tabs on a Chinese spy balloon that has reportedly been flying above top-secret locations.
Chinese spy balloon
Defense officials claimed to be certain that the “high-altitude Chinese spy balloon” are from China. Lately, it has been spotted high above Montana in the West. To prevent damage to personnel and property, the military decided against shooting it down.
The Chinese government issued a statement warning against “hype” and speculating before the facts are confirmed.
On Wednesday, US officials stated the Chinese spy balloon was spotted over Billings, Montana. It had previously flown over the Aleutian Islands in Alaska and Canada. According to a high-ranking defense official, the United States had fighter jets ready, including F-22s, in case the White House instructed the object to be shot down.
Canada announced Friday that it was keeping an eye out for “a potential second incident” regarding a Chinese spy balloon, though it did not specify which country it believed was responsible. To “safeguard Canada’s sensitive information from foreign intelligence threats,” it said it is collaborating closely with the United States.
When satellites can do the job just as well, why bother with a Chinese spy balloon?
On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley met to discuss the current situation. Mr. Austin was in the middle of a business trip to the Philippines at the time. The official claimed the apparent Chinese spy balloon was flying over critical sites in Montana, a sparsely populated state that is home to one of only 3 nuclear missile silo fields in the nation, at Malmstrom Air Force Base.
Military leaders, however, warned against taking “kinetic action” against the Chinese spy balloon due to the risk of injury or death that falling debris could bring to those on the ground. While officials wouldn’t specify how big the Chinese spy balloon was, they did call it “sizeable,” and pilots reportedly reported being able to see it from a distance. Another US official was quoted by US media as saying it was the size of three buses.
U.S. officials “understand precisely where this balloon is and precisely where it’s passing over,” according to the defense department, thus there is no “substantially heightened threat” of US intelligence being exposed. Further, the Chinese spy balloon was “substantially” above the altitude at which commercial airlines fly, therefore it posed no threat to civilian aviation.
The statement went on to say that China already has access to similar data via satellites, so the Chinese spy balloon isn’t likely to provide any new insight. The issue had been brought up with the Chinese both at their embassy in Washington, DC, and in Beijing, authorities said.
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that the country is presently investigating the Chinese spy balloon reports and that “unless the facts are clear, creating conjectures and hyping up the matter would not assist to properly address it.” The nations of the world have nothing to fear from an air or ground invasion by us “that’s what she said.
As of Thursday’s briefing at the Pentagon, neither the plane’s present location nor its point of takeoff had been revealed. They also noted that similar surveillance balloons had been observed in the past, albeit for shorter periods than this one did.
It sparked widespread consternation among Montanans who took to social media to share photos of what seemed to be a spherical, white object in the sky. Others have claimed to have seen U.S. military aircraft in the region, presumably tracking the item.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Chase Doak, a Billings office worker, said he saw a “huge white circle in the sky” and returned home to acquire a better camera after seeing it. He finally admitted, “I thought maybe it was a true UFO.” Then I made it a point to take as many pictures as I could to remember the experience.
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The Chinese government-backed Global Times newspaper claimed that the United States was to blame for escalating tensions between the two countries by constantly fostering a “cold war” mentality. Many Chinese internet users are talking about it, and some are even laughing at the supposed use of balloons for monitoring. One Weibo user questioned the need for a balloon given the availability of satellites.
Marco Rubio, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been critical of China’s purported Chinese spy balloon. He stated that in the last five years, “the amount of espionage targeted at our country by Beijing has grown considerably more aggressive and audacious.”
The Republican governor of Montana, Greg Gianforte, issued a statement saying he had been briefed on the “very worrisome” situation. On Thursday, CIA Director William Burns did not mention the Chinese spy balloon when he spoke at a separate event in Washington, DC, but he did label China the “greatest geopolitical risk” the United States is facing. The tensions surrounding US Secretary of State Antony Blicken’s upcoming visit to China are likely to rise as a result of the alleged spycraft. An official from the Biden administration’s cabinet has never visited the country before.
The top US ambassador is visiting Beijing to discuss a wide variety of problems, including security, Taiwan, and Covid-19. On Thursday, the Financial Times reported that he would also meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
One of the earliest forms of surveillance technology was the use of balloons. They may remain in the air for extended periods, cost less to run than competing air surveillance systems, and require no human intervention whatsoever.
Chinese spy balloon spotted flying over US (Video) Watch Now