Multiple outlets citing anonymous U.S. officials stating the Chinese spy balloon took off from China’s Hainan island last month. The land mass located off the country’s southern coast, according to the Washington Post and CBS.
“Rolling stone” magazine identified a launch facility in satellite imagery of the island. Space imaging firm Planet Labs captured those images. It’s unclear if the facility is related to the spy balloon Washington shot down earlier this month.
But even before news of the balloon, a naval base in Hainan was already on America’s intelligence radar. Other countries in the region have also kept it in their sights.
The island is known as “China’s Hawaii” and for good reason. It’s a vacation hotspot home to a tropical climate and sandy beaches, but it’s also a strategically important location, complete with its own military base.