The United States is sharing information about China’s spy balloon program with dozens of nations after discovering a worldwide surveillance campaign led by the communist regime.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken made the announcement of the intelligence sharing during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jen Stoltenberg at the Department of State in Washington on Feb. 8.
“We’ve already shared information with dozens of countries around the world, both from Washington and through our embassies,” Blinken said.
“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.”
The announcement follows the discovery of a Chinese surveillance balloon that traversed the continental United States in an apparent effort to spy on U.S. military facilities before ultimately being shot down by the U.S. fighter jet on Saturday.
Earlier on Feb. 8, Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder confirmed that new intelligence had allowed the United States to determine at least four previous spy balloon incidents in the United States, three of which occurred during the Trump administration and one during the Biden administration.
In all four incidents, Ryder said, Chinese surveillance balloons had entered the airspace of the continental United States in an apparent effort to spy on “strategic sites.”
Ryder did not confirm if the intelligence which allowed the discovery came from new data gleaned from China’s spy balloon which was shot down over the weekend.
To that end, Blinken said that the United States continued to collect more information on the balloon and China’s spy balloon program “by the hour.”
China Violated Sovereignty, Integrity, International Law
Asked whether the program was linked to China’s military or if Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping had previous knowledge of it, Blinken said that the individuals were less relevant than the national threat posed by such a program.
“As to who is responsible for that, China is,” Blinken said. “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.”
“We are not alone in this. Countries across five continents have also had surveillance balloons overfly their territory, which is why we continue to share this information with others.”
Stoltenberg used the event to highlight communist China’s vast military expansion and modernization program, saying that it was recklessly attempting to enforce its illegal territorial claims and increasingly supporting Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.
“China is substantially building up its military including nuclear weapons without any transparency,” Stoltenberg said. “It’s attempting to assert control over the South China Sea and threatening Taiwan, trying to take control of critical infrastructure including in NATO countries, repressing its own citizens and trampling their rights, and deepening its strategic partnership with Moscow.”
Stoltenberg added that NATO nations in Europe had also been the target of covert Chinese intelligence collection activities, saying that the communist regime had established a destructive pattern of behavior internationally.
“The Chinese balloon over the United States confirms a pattern in Chinese behavior where we see that China over the last years has invested heavily in new military capabilities including different types of intelligence and surveillance platforms,” Stoltenberg said.
“We’ve also seen increased Chinese intelligence activities in Europe, again [with] different platforms.”
Ultimately, Stoltenberg said, the incident reinforced the idea that the international community had entered a new, more dangerous stage of development and competition with authoritarian powers like communist China. To that end, he called on members of NATO and like-minded nations to increase their investments in defense and security, and to prepare for more such attempts to undermine the international order.
“In this more dangerous and more competitive world, we must continue to strengthen our deterrence and defense and further increase defense spending,” Stoltenberg said. “And that is what we are doing.”
The Epoch Times has requested comment from the State Department.
From The Epoch Times