It has been reported that a Chinese surveillance balloon has been flying over strategic locations, and the United States is keeping tabs on it.
Officials from the defense department have expressed their certainty that the “high-altitude surveillance balloon” originated in China. At present, it has been spotted above Montana in the western United States.
This is appalling, and is yet another reminder of the threats the CCP poses to our nation. Our bipartisan Select Committee on China will do what needs to be done to counteract the aggression from the Chinese Communist Party. https://t.co/zgYPvjpHHZ
— Rep. Dusty Johnson (@RepDustyJohnson) February 3, 2023
It was agreed not to fire it down in case some of the debris fell to the ground.
China issued a statement warning against “hype” and speculating before the facts are confirmed.
According to US officials, the object soared over the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, crossed into Canada, and then landed in Montana over the city of Billings on Wednesday.
A top defense official has said that the administration is ready to shoot down the object if the White House gives the order.
On Friday, Canada warned it was keeping an eye out for “a potential second incident” involving a surveillance balloon, though it did not specify which country might be responsible. A joint effort between the two countries is being made to “protect Canada’s sensitive information from foreign intelligence threats,” according to the statement.
On Wednesday, the highest-ranking military officials in the United States convened to discuss the situation. Among those in attendance were Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley. At the time, Mr. Austin was away on business in the Philippines.
The official claimed that the apparent surveillance craft was flying over critical facilities in Montana, a sparsely populated state that is home to one of only three nuclear missile silo fields in the country, at Malmstrom Air Force Base.
Military leaders, however, cautioned against taking “kinetic action” against the balloon due to the potential risk of falling debris hurting civilians on the ground.
Although officials wouldn’t specify how big the balloon was, they did call it “sizeable,” and pilots said they could see it from a distance. According to reports from the United States, another authority has compared it in size to three buses.
US officials “know exactly where this balloon is and exactly where it’s passing over,” according to the defense department, therefore there is no “substantially heightened threat” of US intelligence being exposed.
And because the balloon was so “significantly” above the altitude at which commercial airlines fly, it posed no risk to civilian aviation.
According to the statement, China already has access to much of the same data through satellite, so the balloon isn’t going to add anything to that.
U.S. officials stated that they had discussed the issue with their Chinese counterparts at the Chinese embassy in both Washington, DC, and Beijing.
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that the country is presently investigating the surveillance balloon reports and that “unless the facts are clear, creating conjectures and hyping up the matter would not assist to properly address it.”
“In accordance with its status as a responsible nation, China has a long history of adhering to and strengthening international law. We have no plans to invade the airspace or land borders of any nation “…she explained.
Neither the plane’s present location nor its point of the launch were disclosed at Thursday’s briefing at the Pentagon.
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They also noted that similar surveillance balloons had been observed in the past, albeit for shorter periods of time than this one did.
Illustration of a high-altitude balloon, complete with helium, solar panels, and an instrumentation bay that can house everything from cameras and radar to communications and monitoring gear. Unlike fighter planes and passenger planes, they are able to soar to altitudes of 80,000 to 120,000 feet.
A round, white object appeared in the sky, confusing Montanans who took pictures of it and shared it online. Others claimed to have seen US military aircraft in the region, presumably keeping an eye on the phenomenon.
Chase Doak, a Billings office worker, reported seeing a “huge white circle in the sky” and returning home to grab a more powerful camera, as reported by the Associated Press.
“At first I assumed it was a hoax,” he admitted. “Therefore, I was very careful to record the event and take as many photographs as possible.”
The Global Times, China’s official news outlet, claimed that the United States was to blame for escalating tensions between Beijing and Washington by constantly fostering an atmosphere of hostility.
The purported use of balloons for surveillance is also drawing a lot of attention on Chinese social media, with many users expressing amusement at the idea.
One Weibo commenter said, “Why utilize a balloon when we already have so many satellites?”
Republican Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco Rubio criticized China’s purported spy balloon.
After 5 years, “the amount of espionage aimed at our country by Beijing has grown considerably more intense and brazen,” he tweeted.
Republican Governor of Montana, Greg Gianforte, released a statement saying he has been briefed on the “very worrisome” issue.
Even though he didn’t mention the balloon by name, CIA Director William Burns did label China the “greatest geopolitical issue” the United States faces today during a speech he gave in Washington, DC on Thursday.
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Anticipated tensions surrounding US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s upcoming visit to China are likely to rise in light of the purported spycraft’s presence. A cabinet secretary from the Biden administration is coming to the country for the first time ever.
In addition to discussing security, Taiwan, and Covid-19, the senior US diplomat will also be in Beijing to meet with their Chinese counterparts.
the Financial Times reported on Thursday that he will 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 of time, cost less to run than competing air surveillance systems, and require no human intervention whatsoever.