Report: US Tracked Spy Balloon From China's Coast

The Chinese spy balloon shot down on Feb. 4, 2023 / Reuters
February 15, 2023

U.S. officials tracked China's spy balloon from its launch from China's southern coast, nearly a week before it entered U.S. airspace, CBS reported.

The balloon floated toward Guam and Hawaii until turning north to Alaska, where it entered U.S. airspace on Jan. 28, intelligence officials told CBS. The airship then crossed over Idaho on Jan. 31 before floating across the entire country until President Joe Biden ordered it shot down over the Atlantic Ocean.

Biden has faced criticism from both Republicans and Democrats over his slow response, and the extended timeline will likely lead to more questions as to why the president allowed the balloon to traverse the country with such advance notice.

Vice President Kamala Harris said in a Tuesday interview that she does not think the spy balloon incident will affect relations between the two countries. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, however, canceled a scheduled trip to Beijing, and China has since strengthened its relationship with Iran.

While China says the spy balloon was for meteorological research, the U.S. State Department said it was "clearly for intelligence surveillance," with several antennae "likely capable of collecting and geo-locating communications."

Since the military shot down the balloon over the coast of South Carolina, three more unidentified devices were shot down by U.S. forces over Alaska, northern Canada, and Lake Huron. No objects have been recovered yet, but the Pentagon said the object shot down over Canada was a "small, metallic balloon."

Lawmakers, including top Democrats, are criticizing the Biden administration's lack of transparency on the unidentified objects.

"It’s hard to say whether the administration is trigger happy or prudent because Congress hasn’t received a substantive briefing since the first spy balloon was shot down," Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told the Washington Free Beacon. "The Biden DOD has said that these three objects threatened our national security, and if they did it's unacceptable for Congress to be kept in the dark."

Published under: China