Chinese Spy Balloon Program Connected to Military, Targeted US and Allies: White House

Andrew Thornebrooke
By Andrew Thornebrooke
February 13, 2023China News
Chinese Spy Balloon Program Connected to Military, Targeted US and Allies: White House
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby speaks during the daily press briefing in the James S Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Feb. 13, 2023. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

The White House is confirming that a spy balloon program linked to China’s military targeted the United States and its allies for espionage.

Speaking at a Feb. 13 press conference, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby acknowledged the program, which the United States disclosed for the first time last week.

“China has a high-altitude balloon program for intelligence collection that’s connected to the People’s Liberation Army,” Kirby said.

Kirby said that the Chinese spy balloon program targeted the United States’ “closest allies and partners,” but provided “limited additive” intelligence collection capabilities. Left unchecked, he said, such continued balloon incursions could present a severe national security threat to the United States.

Since shooting down the Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4, the United States has shot down three more unidentified flying objects, two in U.S. airspace and one in Canadian airspace.

Kirby said that the three new objects were much smaller than the Chinese spy balloon and that the United States wass still not sure what they might be.

“There is no question in our minds that that system was designed to surveil, that it was an intelligence asset,” Kirby said of the Chinese spy balloon.

“We knew exactly what that thing was. These other three didn’t have propulsion, they weren’t being maneuvered, they were basically being driven by the wind. We don’t know for sure whether they had a surveillance aspect to them but we can’t rule it out.”

Kirby said that the United States’ apparent difficulty in tracking all four objects was owed to the nature of how radar is typically used, and that the nation was enhancing its capabilities based on newly gathered intelligence.

“Slow-moving objects at high altitude with a small radar cross section are difficult to detect on radar, even objects as large as the Chinese spy balloon,” Kirby said.

He added that the United States would continue to learn from the events including by collecting the debris of the objects for examination, saying that some of the structure and electronics from the Chinese spy balloon had been recovered from the bottom of the Atlantic over the weekend.

China’s balloon surveillance program was first publicly acknowledged by Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Feb. 8, when he also acknowledged that the United States was working to provide intelligence to dozens of other countries affected by the regime’s espionage efforts.

“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,” Blinken said at the time.

“As to who is responsible for that, China is. 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.”

From The Epoch Times

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