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The stakes are high for the US’s response to Chinese spy balloon revelations

The stakes are high for the US's response to Chinese spy balloon revelations

The stakes are high for the US’s response to Chinese spy balloon revelations.

The incident has been made more complicated by the discovery that the Chinese spy balloon that was shot down from the U.S. Coast had the equipment to gather communications and images as it traveled across the country.

After Thursday’s revelations that the balloon had antennas to collect communications signals, and solar panels to power its sensors, U.S. lawmakers demanded new action from Biden’s administration.

Washington was also shaken by earlier this week’s news that the airship was part of a larger operation by the Chinese military to spy upon more than 40 countries on five continents.

According to John Ciorciari (director of the Weiser Diplomacy Center, University of Michigan), the incursion was not known to many Americans until last week.

“This incident suggests that the U.S. will likely accelerate different types of counterintelligence initiatives and expand to areas such as, who do visas we grant to? Ciorciari explained to The Hill who is allowed to study in universities. The Chinese government will likely mirror this acceleration in their policies, Ciorciari said.

The U.S. government won’t waste time responding to the breach. On Thursday, a State Department official said that the U.S. was exploring possible options for taking action against the Chinese military as well as entities supporting the balloon spying operation. The official stated that Washington will also try to expose the Chinese global surveillance program.

The House passed a resolution condemning China’s use of the surveillance satellite over the United States later that day. It called it a “brazen infringement” of U.S. sovereignty.

The resolution calls upon the Biden administration also to inform Congress of any new information that is gleaned from this incident.

The White House and Pentagon have not provided any information. They also don’t explain why the U.S. military didn’t take faster steps to bring down the balloon that drifted slowly across U.S. Territory for several days before it was shot off the coast of South Carolina on February 4.

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At a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee with defense officials, tensions were especially high.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (R), whose airspace was first breached on Jan. 28 by the Chinese balloon, was visibly upset as she interested witnesses.

“As an Alaskan I am so mad. She said that she would love to use other words, but she is not going to. Alaska is America’s first line of defense, isn’t it? We know how China and Russia will come at you. They appear and pass over Alaska.

Later, she added that China has “free range” in Alaska and they will let them cruise over it.

Sen. Susan Collins (R.-Maine) said, “It defies belief that not one opportunity to safely shoot this spy balloon down prior to the coast in South Carolina.”

The chairman of the subcommittee, Senator Jon Tester (D.Mont. The state of which he was also a member, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont), demanded information about how the administration responded to previous instances of Chinese aerial spying, the collection methods used, and how they plan to respond to such an incident.

Tester asked witnesses Melissa Dalton, Assistant Secretary of Defense in Homeland Defense, and Jedidiah Royal, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs.

He said, “I don’t want a damning balloon flying across the United States.” “I have a problem with a Chinese balloon flying over my state, and even the rest of the nation.”

The stakes are high for the US's response to Chinese spy balloon revelations

Royal assured Tester, “some very good guesses,” by the Defense Department about the intel China was trying to collect with the balloon. He promised more details in the classified version.

Tester replied that, while U.S intelligence agencies might think they know what they are going to collect, it is not true. This scares me to death.

When asked repeatedly why the government didn’t shoot down the balloon as soon as it was detected above Alaska, defense officials reiterated past claims that the debris from such an operation, even in remote areas like Alaska, was too dangerous for citizens.

Dalton stated that removing the balloon from Alaska would have made it much more difficult and risky to “salvage and understand the capabilities” of the devices aboard, given the state’s cold, volatile, and deep waters.

It is also concerning to lawmakers and intelligence officials that four spy balloons have flown over the United States previously unnoticed, according to the Pentagon. Three of these were during Trump’s administration and one was months ago under the Biden administration.

Rand Corporation senior international defense researcher Tim Heath said that the incident should be a wake-up call for the U.S. to improve its technology for detecting future balloons.

He said, “It is possible that the U.S. military didn’t believe the Chinese would have enough courage to fly one right over our country.” “I understand why they didn’t find them in the past.”

Heath stated that the radar systems currently in use focus on aircraft and missiles entering U.S. airspace.

Heath said, “To detect [balloons] using radar, you need some kind of technology that can pick-up very low observable objects in the sky like balloons.”

It is possible that other technologies or Chinese tactics may be subject to greater scrutiny in an era of increased tensions between the U.S. and China.

Concerns include TikTok, a social media app owned by China, being banned from government devices in Republican-led States, as well as Chinese companies purchasing land close to U.S. military bases, and Beijing’s deployments of covert agents at American universities.

Ciorciari of the University of Michigan said that espionage occurs among all nations, but that the Chinese spy balloon put the image of spying “into the minds of average American citizens.”

He predicted that this would lead to “more pressure on the U.S. government to limit espionage”.

He said that the threat he sees is not the intelligence gathering capabilities of the balloons, but rather “where this set episode fits in the larger relationship.”

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There’s much more to be learned about the balloon that was brought down this weekend.

With the support of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Navy is still trying to gather balloon debris from the Atlantic Ocean in order to gain information about Chinese technology.

According to FBI officials, the dive teams have so far only removed the canopy, wiring, and some electronics from the water. Rest of the balloon’s payload is still at the ocean bottom, and recovery efforts are expected to take some time due to weather.

By Kevin Bonner

Kevin is an Editor of The Star Bulletin and a content professor. He has been contributing his input in journalism for the last four years. Kevin holds an MFA in creative writing, editing, and publishing from Emory University, Atlanta, USA. And a BA from the same. He is passionate about helping people understand content marketing through his easily digestible materials. In his spare time, he loves to swim and cycle. He is a specialist in covering trending news, world news, and other relevant political stuff. You can find him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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