Tensions Grow Between U.S. And China as Balloon Details Unfold
Are you concerned about the balloon?
Updated February 16, 2023
- Senior officials believe the Chinese spy balloon was originally planned to conduct surveillance over U.S. military bases in Guam and Hawaii, but winds took it off course. As more details come to light, leaders are increasingly concerned about the worsening relationship between the U.S. and China.
- Officials note the two nations' inability to discern and trust each other's intentions and fear it will lead to more conflict.
Updated February 6, 2023
- On Saturday, a U.S. Air Force fighter shot down the Chinese surveillance balloon. The action, ordered by President Joe Biden, took place off the coast of South Carolina to ensure no citizens would be hit with debris. Federal officials stated that the U.S. is taking action to protect the sensitive information the balloon could have collected. On Sunday, a top defense official said:
"We have learned technical things about this balloon and its surveillance capabilities. And I suspect if we are successful in recovering aspects of the debris, we will learn even more."
- Recent reports have revealed that during former President Donald Trump's time in office, at least three similar aircraft were spotted over the U.S. — which the administration did not make public knowledge.
- Trump denied the claims that "spy" balloons entered U.S. territory during his time as president. The Biden administration is willing to brief former Trump officials on these incidents.
- There were reportedly balloon sightings in Florida, Texas, Hawaii, and Guam.
- China's Foreign Ministry accused the U.S. of "overreacting" and "seriously violating international practice." The nation said it reserved the right to handle its "civilian unmanned airship" and will do so during similar situations in the future.
What’s the story?
- The U.S. is monitoring a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon hovering over the northwest, said the Pentagon on Thursday.
- The discovery comes a few days before Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken was set to visit Beijing — a trip that has since been postponed.
- According to a senior defense official, President Biden decided not to give the command to shoot down the balloon over concern that debris would rain down.
- The balloon traveled from China, to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, through northwest Canada, and into Montana, where it was spotted on Wednesday.
Are officials concerned?
- While this is not the first time the U.S. has detected a Chinese surveillance balloon, this one has remained over the country for longer than before. Still, a senior administration official said the balloon does not pose a military or physical threat.
- Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, told reporters that the balloon was well above commercial air traffic and that all U.S. sensitive information is protected.
- Another defense official said the Pentagon believes any intelligence China could collect from the ballon through satellite imagery is of little value.
- Canada’s Department of National Defense said the balloon’s movements were being “actively tracked” by the U.S.-Canada military partnership, the North American Aerospace Defense Command. The department added that both countries are working to “take all necessary measures to safeguard [any] sensitive information from foreign intelligence threats.”
- Concern has grown as Montana holds the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, one of three American Air Force bases that hold intercontinental ballistic missiles. Both countries have spied on each other in the past, and the balloon is expected to raise already high tensions between the U.S. and China from intensifying confrontations in Taiwan and Ukraine.
- On Friday, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the balloon was an innocent mistake. A ministry spokesperson said in a statement:
“The airship is from China. It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes. Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course. The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into U.S. airspace due to force majeure.”
Are you concerned about the balloon?
(Photo credit: Flickr/Michael DeBock)
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The Chinese written language consists of pictigrams. I once asked a Chinese dignatory standing in front of the work of a great Chinese poet how he read the pictographs in which the poem was expressed, He said that he looked at the individual pictogram symbols, determined how they all fit together and what they collectively meant. Their was no poem expressed in words at all - only in the concepts associated with the symbols. I believe that he was being honest with me.
The point of this is that the Chinese written language is based on interpreting symbols and not words, per se. Symbols are an important aspect of their written communications and their means of expression.
I suspect that the baloon was launched and maneuvered over sensitive US sites as a symbol to protest US expansion of bases in the South Pacific.
An appropriate symbolic response by the US would be to shoot it down, disable monitoring equipment with lasers or to capture the whole contraption outright.
I do not, as the military does not, see this satellite as an immediate treat - it is just a symbolic poke that does not risk the reaction that a manned overflight or a missile launch would cause.
Tensions have been high with China ever since the trump's attempt to bully China with his asinine sledgehammer diplomacy and his ill-managed trade war. There were and are trade imbalances that have developed that needed to be and still need to be addressed - but the trump's tactics were asinine and wrong. That and the trump's 'king flu' insult was the kind of disparaging symbol for China, that has had a history of being looked down upon and taken advantage of by imperialists. When the pandemic first emerged, the trump refused China's offer to provide Covid testing kits to help the US when we had none, another symbolic slap in the face.
Biden missed an opportunity to repair tensions with China by keeping the trump's very costly tarriffs in place and not engaging diplomatically to find a symbolically honorable way to fairly compete with China.
As the world's two largest economies, bilateral diplomacy is necessary to find areas where our countries can work together and to understand the boundaries that each country has that may limit that cooperation. If this is approached from the perspective on honorable partners with world wide responsibilities willing to compete on a level playing field, much can be gained and all will prosper.
I think it was a mistake for Blinken to cancel his trip to China at this time (largely a symbolic response). This poke from China should immediately be resolved diplomatically, because it begins to lay the requisite boundaries of what our country will accept. Violation of our near earth airspace cannot be accepted. It provides an excellent focal point from which to build better dipolomatic relation.
Testing US response?
If nothing else it already grounded air traffic in one city! Next time it could carry biological or chemical agents.
Need to capture that balloon & inspect equipment on board as well as analyze what it was doing.
If China is sincere in its apology for its mistake it would provide all the information on this project without even being asked.
Otherwise the timing which coincides with the announcement of 4 new military bases in Philippines which China has protested is suspicious.
I'm not really concerned. There are surely dozens of Chinese satellites watching us every day, and we know there are hackers trying to watch what we do online.
This balloon may not be welcome in our airspace, but I think there are bigger threats.
You know the Chinese could just launch a balloon with a completely dummy do-nothing payload - and just watch the gyrations of our legislators, the divisiness coming from the aHole Republican Cartel, and in general how the US would respond. Maybe that alone was the intent of the balloon - intel on how the US political system would respond to a perceived potential threat.
The military sites that the balloon traversed all have electronic jamming capabilities to limit the electronic intel that can be gleaned from US airspace incursions, including some ability to jam incoming transmissions sent to the vehicle. It appears that our electronic intel folks were also monitoring attempted transmissions to and from the balloon to gain intel on the what, way and how of it.
Waitng for the balloon to clear the East Cost and dropping it into shallow coastal waters was a magnificent military success - and should allow a much better inspection of the surveiling hardware to determine what intel the Chinese were attempting to acquire. If there were intel sensitive gear involved,
I presume that the Chinese would have had self-destruct capabilities to either destroy the payload or to drop the payload onto the land instead of shallow coastal waters. The fact that they did not, would indicate that the military jamming was successful throughout the balloon's US transit.
Originally, I thought it was a mistake for Blinken to have canceled his trip to China. In restrospect, since the US had and successfully implemented a plan to collect the surveilanve equipment, it is best for Blinken to wait until the surveillance gear's purpose and capabilities can definitively be assessed.
The fact that there were three prior US airspace incursions by Chinese balloons that were ignored by the prior administration only emboldened China to launch this balloon which seemed to target several critical military sites.
If this was just a weather balloon, China would have notified the US of its 'accidental' course deviation causinf it to transverse sensitive US sites, how to safely bring it down, and specific details on whatever measurements they were making. China did not contact the US -which infers that this balloon was not simply the meteorological research platform that they subsequently claimed that it was.
I'm so done with Republicans' pearl-clutching about the balloon and President Biden's prudent approach.
Remember how outraged they were when their president Donald let 3 different balloons fly over the US and did nothing? That was something, eh?
Chinese spy balloon shot down today over Atlantic Ocean to avoid interference with air traffic and damage to anyone or anything on the continental US.
"The balloon, which spent five days traveling in a diagonal southeast route from Idaho to the Carolinas, had moved off the coast by midday Saturday and was over the Atlantic Ocean. The Federal Aviation Administration had paused departures and arrivals at airports in Wilmington, N.C., and in Myrtle Beach and Charleston in South Carolina, which the agency said was meant to “support the Department of Defense in a national security effort.”"
At least now we are tracking and paying attention to the issue. Sounds like balloons of various types have been flying over the country without any kind of oversight
I don't trust China at all
I last couple days that Comrade dear leader Beijing Biden is now concerned that China and Russia have become new best friends. China May start providing Russia with weapons to help in thd conflict between Russia and Ukraine who has some twenty countries providing weapons and training to the Ukraine. However he has a problem with Russia getting the same kind of help?
Don't get me wrong I am not interested in Russia winning the war.
He went to Ukraine yesterday and made several promises of more weapons and money. He went in the middle of a war zone in which we don't have one troop on the ground. In the past when a President went to a war zone to visit troops it is kept secret until after he arrived and already left.
This administration called the Russians and announced that he was coming to the capital and that the Russians troops should not attack that city while he was there. Brilliant!!!
He still has not been to Ohio to the train derailment but he could go to Ukraine.
Here's what I am concerned about and I'm very concerned about what in the hell is Kevin McCarthy doing training over government documents to Tucker Carlson!!!!!! Kevin McCarthy should be booted out of office immediately the documents to turn back over to the government and both Kevin McCarthy and Tucker Carlson should be prosecuted to the ends of the law. This is absolute bullshit.
I'm constantly worried about security in 🇺🇸 and they are saying this has been going around on for long period of time. We will never know our much information was taken during these unlawful entry into our territory. It's hard to believe that our country has become so relaxed to our national security. Last am I am a United States, Air Force veteran. Who served 20 has Aircraft, maintenance crew chief, on Fighter jet aircraft
I can't imagine anyone allowing the first balloon to transit the entire width of the United States without taking action to shoot it down! This just shows the entire world that the current government of the USA is weak and corrupt!
biden is a terrible president, not on his game and not truthful nor accountable. his ties with china are crystal clear yet he continues to deny deny deny! much like his son's laptop not disinformation nor russian planted! also i feel certain he was aware of this balloon and just closed his eyes to it! china owns him and his son, they have forked over millions of dollars to keep them in their back pocket!
This balloon should have never been allowed into US airspace
I am concerned about the level of espionage in our world nowadays. But I think the US is acting too sanctimonious over this. I am certain that the US is doing the same to adversaries, whether it is balloon, satellite or whatever other means.
Let there be peace and understanding between us all.
I watched them shoot it down. It is gone now. I haven't heard anything about what the other 3 were thought to be. One of them flew over Lake Huron. Pretty close. I didn't like that. I had thought for quite sometime that all the airplane problems during the holidays had to do with enemy influences and maybe that was to do with the balloons, don't know. We do seem to be getting quite "slack" with transportation safty issues in our country. The recent poison train wreck in Ohio was certainly a stunner! And at the same time.........so completly ignored. (poor white people). Time to step up, tighten up and make sure that our protections within our are secured! Dance Halls in Calif? Mass shootings with machine guns?
The constant fear of machine gun shootings within our country and STATE, are beyond alarming. MSU are you kidding me????
1. Sell your machine guns back month (no questions asked).
2. Anyone caught selling machine guns gets life in prison.
3. Use undercover people to act as buyers to help bust and imprison those that sell machine guns.
4. Disolve the NRA, oh wait I forgot, it's a Russian business now.
5. Pick up and question anyone that is a memeber of the NRA, including our Congressmen and women and give them the choice of resigning their membership and giving up all of their machine guns or going to jail right now.
The sooner you all get to work on this the safer we will all be!
I'm very concerned and tired with China pushing our buttons. And just as concerned with politicians letting them. There on the label of everything we buy. There in our education, have stolen our technology and our jobs. They gave us and the rest of the world Covid and murdered millions. They have strategically bought our land AND some of our politicians. Now they fly over our country and they get upset with US? And, we let them? They should have been shot down the minute they flew in our air space in the Pacific. At the very least in Montana where they could have brought it down and easily retrieve it before it flys over important instillations. We're worried about hitting a school or a house? We can go to war, pin point where Sulamoni is, a terrorist leader, and blow him to smitherines (sp), but we can't miss a school or a house? They don't call it sky country for nothing. At best they might have hit a cow! President Biden said the following Wednesday after it was found out by the public, he just heard about it. If that's true why didn't our intelligence or the pentagon tell him long before then? Is someone else running this country? The Trump administration said they were never told. You may not like Trump, but I have a lot of respect for Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo and others. They all said they were never told. In fact just today Pompeo said Biden invited him Radcliffe and Asburg to a talk about the balloon. Wow, not just throwing the Trump administration under the bus now but actually talking to them! Pompeo says again, nothing like this ever flew across this country during there time in office. After seeing what the FBI and DOJ have done and got away with doing in the past few years, I believe him. I have no faith in our government anymore. The higher up officials of the FBI and DOJ and other corners of our government have been compromised. As far as I'm concerned there are people now in departments through out our government who have an agenda and are calling the shots. Unelected people! There trying to change this country into something every immigrant ran from from the beginning of our country's history. As far as China, they have proven they have never been trustworthy. They can use all the symbols they want. We have given everything to them and the rest they stole. They keep coming at us because they want to be the world leader. And we're suppose to be gentle? I don't believe in attacking countries but I do believe in defending our country. By any means should it come to that!
No injuries D/T take down over ocean.
Glad radar capacity has been increased for earlier detection.
I remember when they said Trump will start ww 3. They only missed it by one "president"
Do authoritarians all get meaner and more aggressive as they get older?
So much for wisdom coming with age.
there has been no data on these ballones so I know if I should be or not. release this info from being kept out of the public forum
CAUSES ASKS: "Are you concerned about the [alleged Chinese spy] balloon?" ME: Not particularly; however, China as a growing military, economic, and political force around the world, particularly in developing nations, IS concerning, considering that China is most definitely a long-term player. From its "Belt and Road Initiative" to cozying with Russia, to the crack-down in Hong Kong and intimidation of Taiwan, to aggressive actions in the Asian-Pacific oceans, and more, China's competition with the West is beginning to push the envelope. One good and eye-opening read: Elizabeth C. Economy's "The World According to China."
this is how the U.S. gets the publics approval for an even bigger, more wasteful, and bloated military budget.
they stir up fear, obscure the facts, and manufacture your consent throgh the media.
as government complains about debt, republicans try to end social security, and we need housing, healthcare, education, action on the climate disaster-these are what we need to focus on,but they will spend your tax money on war toys with no push back from congress.
more bombs and tanks won't save the planet...
This administration has caused irreparable harm to our nation security. His ties to China cause a significant conflict of interest
Tell the military to ramp up survilence