US Shoots Down A Chinese Surveillance Balloon Over US AirSpace

US Shoots Down A Chinese Surveillance Balloon Over US AirSpace

February 6, 2023 - 5:16 am

China expresses deep discontent & threatens to take appropriate action

A Chinese balloon was seen off the coast of South Carolina, so the US launched a complex operation to shoot it down. In the midst of already deteriorating ties between the two largest countries in the world, it travelled through critical military locations in North America at above 55,000ft. for several days. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was forced to abruptly cancel a trip to Beijing that was essential for calming tense situations. While acknowledging that it was their balloon, China maintained that it was a weather balloon and refuted claims that it was spying. Despite the claim that several aircraft were involved, the missile that brought the balloon down was fired by an F-22 Raptor. China reacted vehemently to the conduct, expressing its "deep discontent," and threatened to take "appropriate actions."

Specification of Surveillance Balloon

Surveillance balloons— typically outfitted with cutting-edge, downward-pointing imaging equipment — offer the chance to monitor sites at a closer range than satellites and can provide clearer images than fast-moving satellites. The balloon, which is thought to be at least two school buses in size, and its sensors are spread out over an area of seven miles (11 kilometres) off the coast of Myrtle Beach and are submerged in water that is 50 feet (15 metres) deep. They can have a "guiding apparatus" to direct their direction, though their movement is frequently left to weather patterns. In the upcoming days, it was anticipated to be hauled up by divers and cranes working from the surface, potentially providing intelligence analysts with critical information about Chinese surveillance capabilities. 

Response on Balloon Misadventure

China says it was nothing more than a weather-monitoring balloon that strayed off course denying any claims of spying, while the US insists it was much more, and part of a broader spying plan by the Chinese government. In light of this, those with direct knowledge of the situation claimed that the Biden administration was gauging how brutally and quickly to retaliate. The official government position that the United States was exaggerating the crisis was reflected by uncensored responses on the Chinese internet. Some saw it as an opportunity to ridicule American defences, claiming that they couldn't even protect against a balloon. Nationalist influencers jumped at the chance to use the news to denigrate the United States.

Balloons Found in Other Sites

Chinese espionage balloons have entered American airspace before, and this is hardly the only instance in recent years. They have seen balloons cross at least three times under the Trump administration and at least once more under Mr. Biden's presidency, but never for this long. Similar Chinese surveillance balloons had previously been spotted in South Asia and East Asia, according to U.S. officials, and they "violated the sovereignty of other countries." A surveillance blimp with a similar look was spotted in the Indian Ocean's Andaman Islands last year. 

The Way Forward on Surveillance Balloon

The back-and-forth on a global scale served as a reminder that even though the balloon may have crashed, the strange surveillance story that surrounded it is still far from over. In his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, Biden will almost surely bring up the incident. One possibility is to dispatch Secretary of State Antony Blinken to China with a considerably more stern message than the one he had originally intended to deliver this week before postponing the trip when the balloon's existence over the US was made public. However, the administration now feels that Blinken should come back soon. In relation to both the balloon and evidence the US claims demonstrates Chinese corporations have been covertly aiding Russia's war effort in Ukraine, they call for a far harder stance. The incident is already increasing pressure on the administration to intensify efforts to impede China's access to a variety of high-tech semiconductors used in complex military applications as well as the priceless machinery necessary to produce such chips. The embarrassingly public act of alleged espionage has made it harder for the US and China to normalise diplomatic relations over contentious issues like Taiwan, even if it doesn't prompt any new actions specifically.