US weighs 'action' in response to Chinese spy balloon program

U-2 plane spotted antennas on Chinese spy balloon that WERE capable of collecting and transmitting intelligence: Biden now considers ‘action’ over surveillance program that has spanned 40 countries

  • A State Department official confirmed on Thursday morning that the US believes China is using balloons for a vast surveillance network across the world
  • The US Air Force shot down such a balloon off the East Coast on Saturday
  • Congress is preparing a resolution to condemn China over the incursion 

Antennas and solar panels were found among the recovered debris of the Chinese spy balloon that was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean last week, a US official said on Thursday.

A new update on the matter from the State Department shows that American intelligence is uncovering a vast surveillance network by Beijing that has spanned 40 countries.

Now, the US is considering taking ‘action’ against China for what it calls a violation of American sovereignty.  

The balloons used in the world-wide operation are capable of ‘conducting signals intelligence collection operations,’ a senior State official said.

US intelligence links the program directly to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), China’s principle military force.

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

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

The official said the US will ‘explore taking action against [Chinese government] entities linked to the PLA that supported the balloon’s incursion into U.S. airspace.’

‘We will also look at broader efforts to expose and address the [Chinese government’s] larger surveillance activities that pose a threat to our national security, and to our allies and partners,’ they said.

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

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.

The State Department official said on Thursday, ‘The United States sent a clear message to [China] that its violation of our sovereignty was unacceptable by shooting down the balloon, protecting our own sensitive intelligence, and maximizing our ability to track the balloon and recover the payload to get more information on [China’s] program.’

‘From [China’s] messaging and public comments, it’s clear that they have been scrambling to explain why they violated U.S. sovereignty and still have no plausible explanation – and have found themselves on their heels,’ they said.

The statement also took aim at Beijing’s claims that the device was merely a weather balloon that was blown off course.

‘High resolution imagery from U-2 flybys revealed that the high-altitude balloon was capable of conducting signals intelligence collection operations,’ the State Department said.

‘The high altitude balloon’s equipment was clearly for intelligence surveillance and inconsistent with the equipment onboard weather balloons. 

‘It had multiple antennas to include an array likely capable of collecting and geo-locating communications. It was equipped with solar panels large enough to produce the requisite power to operate multiple active intelligence collection sensors.’

The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to condemn China over the balloon incident.

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