Chinese spy balloon stirs up fear in the US

Between Jan. 28 and Feb. 4, 2023, a Chinese-operated high altitude balloon was spotted flying across Alaska, Canada and the contiguous United States before being shot down off the coast of South Carolina.

China claims that it was an innocuous weather balloon, and has accused the United States of withholding information regarding the incident. “The United States, from the recovery of the [balloon] remains to the analysis of the [balloon] debris, has completely acted on its own and in a surreptitious manner,” the foreign ministry’s spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, according to the online source, Reuters News Agency.

However, despite the fact that the Chinese government claimed that the balloon was harmless, the US military has recovered several censors from the wreckage. The search parties have discovered key sensors in the balloon that are typically used for intelligence gathering, according to Reuters.

This has caused some panic in the United States Government, and the US Air Force has begun shooting down flying objects without knowing what they are. According to Ground News, “An Illinois-based club of amateur balloonists says one of its small balloons is ‘missing in action.’ It last reported its location over Alaska on Saturday, the same day the US military shot down an unidentified object.” This has led to criticism of the US military and government for being too trigger-happy, while others criticized the military for being too cautious and waiting to act during the initial balloon sighting.

North America is far from the only continent where China has been gathering intelligence using underhanded means. According to the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, China-linked hackers targeted nearly 40 industries across the world. While nothing is certain, China’s plans could show that it is investing heavy resources and, for better or worse, could soon rival the US as the world’s number one superpower.