According to the Biden administration, China’s military is probably responsible for a massive aerial spy program that has targeted more than 40 nations across five continents with surveillance balloons at high altitudes similar to the one the United States shot down over the Atlantic Ocean coast last weekend.
The administration claimed that China had developed a sophisticated surveillance system capable of gathering sensitive intelligence, and the statement from a senior State Department official provided the most specific evidence to date connecting China’s People’s Liberation Army with the balloon that traveled across the United States.
The information is being made public to disprove China’s repeated claims that the balloon was used for espionage, including a claim made on Thursday that Beijing is the target of “information warfare” by the United States over the balloon.
Images of that balloon taken by American U-2 spy planes as it floated across the nation, according to a U.S. official, showed that it was “capable of conducting signals intelligence collection” thanks to its numerous antennas, other equipment for uploading sensitive data, and solar panels to power it.
According to the official, an examination of the balloon debris is “inconsistent” with China’s claim that it was a meteorological balloon that deviated from its intended path.
The person stated that the U.S. is contacting nations that have also been targeted to discuss the extent of the Chinese surveillance program.
The official spoke to reporters through email under the condition of anonymity owing to the situation’s sensitivity, which had already compelled Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone a trip to China earlier this week.
According to the person, the United States is confident that the maker of the Saturday balloon that was shot down had “a direct link with China’s military and is an approved vendor of the” army. The official used data from the PLA’s official procurement webpage to support the assertion that there was a relationship between the business and the military.