Chinese 'spy' balloons targeted numerous countries, including India: Report
China operated a fleet of spy balloons to target numerous nations like Japan and India, according to media reports. The reports come just days after the United States (US) military shot down a Chinese surveillance craft hovering over the country's sensitive installations. US officials have also informed its allies about the findings of the spy balloon that was gunned down by a fighter jet.
Why does this story matter?
- Tensions between China and other nations are once again on the rise following the recent spying allegations.
- The US asserted that the Chinese spy balloon was monitoring its nuclear weapons facilities; China, however, maintained it was merely a weather observation airship with no military purpose.
- Venezuela also echoed China's claims, stating said the US "resorted to the use of force" against a harmless device.
China spying on India, other nations using balloons: Report
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the surveillance balloon effort, which has been functional for numerous years partially out of China's Hainan Province off the south coast, has been collecting data regarding military assets in nations that hold strategic interest to China, including the Philippines, India, Japan, Vietnam, and Taiwan. This report is allegedly based on interviews with anonymous intelligence and defense officials.
Earlier, 'spy' balloons were spotted in US' Texas, Florida, etc
As per the news outlet, at least four balloons in recent years have been spotted over Guam, Florida, Hawaii, and Texas in addition to the one shot down last week. The report also claimed that three of the four instances occurred under former US President Donald Trump's regime but were only recently identified as surveillance airships from China.
These balloons are all part of PRC: Senior defense official
As per officials, these surveillance balloons were operated in part by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) air force and have been spotted numerous times, The Washington Post reported. "These balloons are all part of a PRC (People's Republic of China) fleet of balloons developed to conduct surveillance operations, which also violated the sovereignty of other countries," said a senior defense official.
US requested telephonic conversation between Lloyd Austin, Wei Fenghe: Report
Citing Pentagon sources, the New York Times reported that Beijing denied the US's request for a telephonic conversation between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe after the balloon was shot down. On Tuesday, the Pentagon officially published a series of photographs of the recovery process of the Chinese surveillance balloon.
China declined our request: Pentagon Press Secretary Patrick S Ryder
In an emailed statement, the Pentagon Press Secretary Brigadier General Patrick S Ryder said: "We believe in the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between the United States and the P.R.C. in order to responsibly manage the relationship." "Unfortunately, the P.R.C. has declined our request," he added, while asserting that the Pentagon will keep on trying.
Antony Blinken postpones scheduled Beijing visit
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken delayed his scheduled Beijing visit after the surveillance balloon was spotted in America. The balloon was reportedly first spotted over Montana, after which it traversed the nation before it was gunned down by US fighter aircraft later.