China says the US, not them, are flying spy balloons

PHOTO: After the US shot down Chinese spy balloons, China is claiming the US has balloons in their airspace too. (via Reuters)

Tensions between China and the United States have increased following accusations from China that the US has been flying surveillance balloons into its airspace. The White House shot back that it is China, not them, launching spy balloons worldwide. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson responded on Twitter.

“Any claim that the US government operates surveillance balloons over the PRC (People’s Republic of China) is false. It is China that has a high-altitude surveillance balloon program for intelligence collection, that it has used to violate the sovereignty of the US and over 40 countries across five continents.”

The US vehemently denies allegations of spy balloons in China. China has accused the US of sending more than 10 balloons into its airspace since January 2022, with foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin claiming that the US has illegally entered the airspace of other countries.

In response, the State Department has rejected these accusations, calling them “the latest example of China scrambling to do damage control.” They suggest the claims are a distraction from the recent spate of spy balloons from China shot down over US airspace.

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Recently, there have been growing concerns over aerial incursions in the US, with a number of objects having been reported. The Pentagon has not yet determined the nature of three of these objects, with one having been shot down over Alaska and two over Canada’s Yukon territory and Lake Huron.

However, the US military says that the object that was shot down over Lake Huron on Sunday did not resemble the alleged Chinese surveillance balloon that was destroyed off the Atlantic coast on February 4.

The initial balloon incident led to the cancellation of a trip to China by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, while President Joe Biden ordered an F-16 fighter to shoot down the latest object on Sunday “out of the abundance of caution.” Despite aircraft inspections, there have been no indications of any threat from these objects.

The objects are reported to be travelling slowly, around the speed of the wind. Speculation as to what these objects might be has been rife, with General Glen VanHerck of the US Northern Command declining to rule out anything at this point.

“What we are seeing is very, very small objects that produce a very, very low radar cross section. I will let the intel community and the counterintelligence community figure that out. I haven’t ruled out anything at this point.”

China declined to comment on reports of an unidentified flying object spotted off its east coast, referring journalists to the defence ministry, which did not respond to requests for comment. With both China and the US denying the allegations against them, it remains unclear as to the origins of these mysterious objects that have been spotted in the skies.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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