Top Line

The suspected Chinese surveillance balloon shot down on Saturday afternoon by US fighter jets over Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is part of a worldwide Chinese program to spy on military targets around the world, according to US officials who spoke to US officials. . new York Times,

important facts

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Although Chinese officials claimed the balloon – which was first spotted last week in Billings, Montana – was a civilian weather project that went astray in westerly winds, US officials, speaking on background, said times It was actually part of a Chinese surveillance program used to avoid detection by radar.

Officials say the giant balloon could drift in a more erratic pattern determined by the wind, as opposed to a satellite, and could be detected by radar despite being very close to Earth at an altitude of about 60,000 feet.

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They can also provide clearer pictures than satellites and pick up signals from the ground that satellites are too far away to receive, according to the officials, who were not named.

However, the balloon seen last week was the latest one spotted by US officials. Washington Post reported after a series of others collecting surveillance information from more than 12 other countries across five continents.

big number

Three. How many suspected Chinese surveillance balloons were detected during the Trump administration, according to Pentagon officials, although former President Donald Trump denied this fox news digital This "never happens" because Beijing "showed us a lot of respect" during his presidency. However, instead of being labeled as alien surveillance balloons, they were classified as unidentified aerial phenomenaNew classification for UFOs. Last weekend, another balloon was spotted over Costa Rica, before floating southeast over Colombia and Venezuela.

main background

US Coast Guard and Navy boats recovered the balloon that fell into the ocean off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, revealing for the first time up-close image of the deflated balloon—roughly the size of three buses—and launching an investigation into the balloon's contents that renewed ongoing tensions between Washington DC and Beijing. President Joe Biden, after several calls to shoot down the balloon as it floated southeast from Montana, gave US fighter jets the green light to shoot it down after it crossed the Carolina coast, according to advisers. Following advice that it was shot on the ground. Can be dangerous to people on the ground.

what we don't know

Why would China launch a surveillance balloon program. Gordon Chang, Senior Fellow, Gatestone Institute forbes The balloons are unquestionably used for espionage this week, repeating a claim made by Pentagon officials, and adding it could be a "test" for China, to see if US officials are a foreign spy. How will the balloon react if it is overhead - the authorities have condemned this as a violation of airspace. he also told forbes It could be a sign that Chinese President Xi Jinping—who has built up the country's military capabilities in recent years—is preparing for war, which he said would most likely take the form of an invasion of Taiwan, where China The US had last year conducted military exercises including missile strikes.

US shoots down suspected Chinese spy balloon over Atlantic (Forbes)

Pentagon admits it could not find three Chinese spy balloons during Trump's tenure (Forbes)

China says alleged spy balloon hovering over US is actually a 'civilian airship' blown up (Forbes)