US intel says Chinese balloon was part of global spying op: Report

US intelligence confirms Chinese spy balloon was part of Beijing global surveillance operation to collect information on military sites across the world: Report

  • Biden officials reportedly detected suspected Chinese surveillance balloons in 12 different countries across five continents before the recent incident
  • The latest balloon’s slow track over the US gave officials unique time to study it
  • The three detected under Trump were called ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’

China’s suspected ‘spy balloon’ that unnerved millions of Americans across the country last week is seemingly part of a larger global surveillance plot by Beijing’s authoritarian government, a new report claimed on Wednesday.

Citing three people familiar with the US intelligence community’s assessments, the New York Times reports that last week’s diplomatic incident is part of a world-wide campaign of Chinese spying. 

The likely goal is reportedly to gather more information about American military bases as well as other countries’ military capabilities.

Such surveillance devices were reportedly detected in at least 12 different countries across five continents. 

Air Force jets shot down the balloon which kicked off public furor over Beijing’s brazen spying tactics on Saturday, just off the coast of South Carolina.

The suspected Chinese spy balloon drifts to the ocean after being shot down off the coast in Surfside Beach, South Carolina, U.S. February 4, 2023

It was first detected crossing US territory on January 28, briefly crossed through Canada and then traversed several states in the continental US before it was brought down on February 4.

President Joe Biden gave the order to shoot it down on Wednesday of last week but Defense officials cautioned that it would be safer to do so when the falling debris no longer posed a risk to Americans on the ground.

Biden’s Republican critics have criticized this as a weak response, claiming he allowed the Chinese government to glean information about important national security matters in the days it was allowed to pass through the country untouched – at a low enough altitude to be seen by the naked eye.

But according to the report, its days cruising over the United States provided analysts with valuable information about China’s surveillance capabilities.

American officials found that benefits to using such devices over satellites to gather information include the unpredictability of their routes compared to satellites in a fixed orbit, as well as the ability to produce clearer images of what it’s tracking on the ground.

The Pentagon said the balloon shot down on Saturday was the second such device detected under the Biden administration.

Three such balloons passed through the country under Donald Trump, according to Biden Defense officials – something people in the previous administration have been skeptical of.

‘What is the basis of this new detection?’ said ex-Trump national security adviser John Bolton to CNN earlier this week.

US intelligence officials reportedly found that China was using such devices to look at US and other governments’ military capabilities

But according to the Times’ reporting, the incidents had been classified as ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’ at the time.

Biden briefly alluded to the most recent balloon during his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night.

‘Today, we’re in the strongest position in decades to compete with China or anyone else in the world,’ the president boasted.

‘I am committed to work with China where it can advance American interests and benefit the world.

‘But make no mistake: as we made clear last week, if China’s threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did.’

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