US seeks to deflate Chinese balloon worries
In an effort to defuse a developing diplomatic crisis with Beijing, the White House stated on Tuesday that preliminary data indicates three unidentified aerial objects shot down by US jets were not part of a larger Chinese spy balloon programme.
Since a massive white Chinese balloon was seen tracing over several top-secret nuclear weapons installations on February 4 before being shot down just off the east coast, the United States has been in a state of anxiety.
President Joe Biden immediately ordered the shooting down of three more unidentified aircraft over Alaska, Canada, and Lake Huron after the event, during which the US military changed radar settings to identify smaller objects.
According to National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, US authorities “haven’t seen any indication or anything that goes particularly to the concept that these three items were part of [China’s] spy balloon programme or that they were obviously involved in external intelligence.”
Officials are now emphasising that the three additional objects appear to be neither Chinese nor participating in spying, despite speculation from Congress, the media, and the general public about everything from a concerted Chinese surveillance offensive to aliens. They “may be balloons simply related to business or research groups and so innocent,” according to Kirby. According to him, this “may emerge as a leading answer here.”
Beijing says the enormous drone that was shot down off the coast on February 4 was for weather research and that another ship that was observed over South America was for pilot training. Beijing denies using spy balloons.
Chinese authorities increased the ante on Monday by claiming that the US had sent its own spy balloons over their land, a claim that US officials have refuted. The diplomatic fallout between the competing heavyweights has already resulted in Secretary of State Antony Blinken hastily cancelling a rare trip to Beijing.