China’s military is likely behind a huge aerial spy program that has targeted more than 40 countries on five continents with high-altitude surveillance balloons similar to one the U.S. shot down over the Atlantic coast last weekend, the Biden administration said Thursday.
A fleet of balloons operates under the direction of the People’s Liberation Army and is used specifically for spying, outfitted with high-tech equipment designed to gather sensitive information from targets across the globe, the U.S. said. Similar balloons have sailed over five continents, according to the administration.
A statement from National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby gives us the most detail to date linking China’s military to the balloon that was shot down by the U.S. last weekend over the Atlantic Ocean.
“China has a high-altitude balloon program for intelligence collection that’s connected to the People’s Liberation Army,” Kirby said.
Balloons similar to the one found above Montana last week have been spotted in recent years above Japan, India, and Taiwan. China admitted a high-altitude balloon found above Latin America this month was its own, though it said the balloon was a civilian airship doing weather research.
Kirby noted that if action was not taken to stop the balloons from spying on the U.S., it would present a severe national security threat.
In typical Democrat style, Kirby used the opportunity to take a swig at Trump’s administration, saying the balloon program was happening during Trump’s presidency but was never detected. He went on, “We detected it. We tracked it.”
Here’s what Carson Krow tweeted:
“You expect anyone to believe this incompetent garbage administration detected Chinese spy balloons? And the Trump administration couldn’t? Yeah – nobody actually believes that.”
You expect anyone to believe this incompetent garbage administration detected Chinese spy balloons and the Trump administration couldn’t?
Yeah— nobody actually believes that. https://t.co/Mb3Ew9yjhV
— Carson Krow (@carsonkrow) February 13, 2023
According to 100 Percent Fedup, Kirby’s admission makes Joe Biden’s decision to allow the balloon to fly across America puzzling.
Rep Jim Jordan tweeted his concern:
“The Biden Administration let a Chinese spy balloon fly across our country. But is defunding American surveillance balloons that help Border Patrol agents secure the southern border.“
The Biden Administration let a Chinese spy balloon fly across our country.
But is defunding American surveillance balloons that help Border Patrol agents secure the southern border.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) February 10, 2023
100 Percent Fedup added:
Regarding the three other objects sighted following the spy balloon, Kirby said they were much smaller than the balloon and that the United States was still unsure what they might be.
“There is no question in our minds that that system was designed to surveil, that it was an intelligence asset,” Kirby said of the Chinese spy balloon. We knew exactly what that thing was. These other three didn’t have propulsion, they weren’t being maneuvered. They were basically being driven by the wind. We don’t know for sure whether they had a surveillance aspect to them, but we can’t rule it out.”
Kirby also explained why the United States had difficulty tracking the four objects. Saying it was due to the nature of how radar is normally used and that the country was increasing its capabilities based on newly gathered intelligence.
“Slow-moving objects at high altitudes with a small radar cross section are difficult to detect on radar, even objects as large as the Chinese spy balloon,” Kirby noted.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken first acknowledged China’s balloon surveillance program publicly on Feb. 8, when he also acknowledged that the United States was working with dozens of other countries that were also being spied on,
“We’re doing so because the United States is not the only target of the balloon program, which has violated the sovereignty of countries across five continents. As to who is responsible for that, China is. It doesn’t matter on some level which individuals may or may not have been responsible. The fact is China engaged in this irresponsible action in violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity and international law.”