U.S. intelligence sources have confirmed that the Chinese spy balloon that crossed the U.S. and unnerved millions of Americans last over eight days was part of a larger global surveillance plot by Beijing’s government, according to a new report.
According to a report by the New York Times, last week’s incident is part of a much larger plan by the Chinese. The likely goal is reported to be to gather as much information about the U.S.’s military capabilities as well as American military bases.
Similar surveillance devices were reported to have been detected in at least 12 countries across five continents.
U.S. Air Force jets shot down the balloon off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, kicking off public outrage over China’s blatant surveillance tactics.
The spy balloon was first detected crossing U.S. territory in Alaska on January 28. It traversed Canada and several states in the continental U.S. before being shot down on February 4.
President Joe Biden ordered to shoot down the balloon on Wednesday of last week. However, defense officials warned it would be safer to do so when falling debris no longer posed a risk to citizens on the ground.
Republicans criticize Biden administration for ‘weak response’ to spy balloon
The president’s GOP critics have criticized his administration for having a weak response, claiming he permitted the Chinese government to gather information about critical national security matters in the days it was allowed to float across several U.S. states unchallenged — at an altitude low enough to be seen by the naked eye.
According to the report, the days the surveillance device spent cruising over the U.S. provided military and defense analysts with valuable information about China’s surveillance capabilities.
U.S. officials found that benefits to utilizing such devices instead of satellites to gather information include how unpredictable the routes of balloons are in comparison to satellites that have a fixed orbit. Additionally, surveillance balloons can produce clearer images than satellites of what it is documenting on the ground.
The Pentagon said the balloon shot down was the second similar device detected under President Joe Biden’s administration.
Some defense officials have said other spy balloon incidents occurred during the administration of former President Donald Trump’s administration, claims Trump and his advisers dispute.
“What is the basis of this new detection?” said former-Trump national security adviser John Bolton this week.
According to reports, the incidents had been classified as ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’ at the time.
President Biden briefly mentioned the most recent spy balloon incident during this Tuesday’s State of the Union address.
“Today, we’re in the strongest position in decades to compete with China or anyone else in the world,” boasted the president.
“I am committed to work with China where it can advance American interests and benefit the world. But make no mistake; as we made it clear last week if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did.”