Chinese balloon part of worldwide fleet, US officials say

The US believes a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that was shot down over its territory is part of a wider fleet that has spanned five continents.

“The United States was not the only target of this broader programme,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.


Citing unnamed officials, the Washington Post reported that the US believes the suspected surveillance balloon project was being operated from China’s coastal Hainan province and targeted countries including Japan, India, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines.

At a Wednesday news conference, Defence Department spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder confirmed that the US believed similar balloons had operated over North and South America, South East Asia, East Asia and Europe.

“We’ve learned a lot about these balloons and how to track them,” Gen Ryder said, adding that the US was now confident it had the ability to be “on the look-out for these kinds of capabilities”.

He said while the objects were all used for surveillance missions, there were “variations” in terms of their size and capabilities.

The US believes that balloons have operated over US territory on at least four occasions, but Gen Ryder did not give further detail on these instances.

Washington briefed 40 allied countries about the alleged espionage programme earlier this week, a senior Biden administration official confirmed to CBS News, the BBC’s US partner.


Source: Chinese balloon part of worldwide fleet, US officials say – BBC News

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