According to the White House, China has an intelligence-gathering “high-altitude balloon program”.
This comes at a time when tensions are rising between China and the US after the US shotdown a fourth unidentified object in North American airspace.
It was brought down over Lake Huron, Michigan at 2.42pm on Sunday. This was President Joe Biden’s order. The object had been shot down in Alaska and Canada Friday and Saturday.
John Kirby, national security council coordinator, strategic communications, stated Monday that the US continues to work to “better understand foreign intelligence collection efforts.”
He said that China had a high-altitude intelligence balloon program that was connected to the People’s Liberation Army.
He said that the balloons had “limited capabilities”, but technology will allow for “more value” in the future.
Kirby claims that the US can’t “definitively” determine the risks associated with balloons and so they responded out of “an abundance caution”.
Kirby stated that the objects were unmanned and had no indications of propulsion or manoeuvring capabilities.
He said: “We did evaluate that their altitudes had been significantly lower than the Chinese high–altitude balloon, and did pose a danger to civilian commercial aviation traffic.
“And although we don’t have any reason to suspect they were doing surveillance, we can’t rule it out.”
He stated that the missions had been “conducted successfully” and were safe.
Although efforts are being made to recover the objects in order to better understand their purpose, the ones found in Alaska and Canada are located in remote terrain making it harder to locate them.
Mr Kirby stated that NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command), is not involved in recovery operations. However, it continues to monitor the situation.
“No indication of aliens”
Karine Jean-Pierre, White House Press Secretary, addressed the media during the news conference and stressed that Americans should not hear from the White House “there is no indication about aliens”.
She laughed with journalists present at the briefing, saying: “I loved ET The Movie, but I am just going leave it there.”
China claims that US balloons flew above its airspace more than 10 times in the last year.
US in a heightened state over flying objects
Spy balls and flying objects: This timeline shows where and when fighter jets have taken down.
Lloyd Austin, the US defense secretary, told reporters in Brussels that President Joe Biden is putting safety and security first.
He stated that the objects did not pose a threat to military personnel on ground. However, they do pose a threat to civil aviation and could be a threat to intelligence collection. We’ll get to the bottom.
He said that the US had not been able “definitively evaluate what these objects are”.
Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, stated earlier that the invasion of North American airspace was “a very serious matter” and is being dealt with seriously.
He stated that the topic will be discussed when he meets with President Biden.
Trudeau stated that search and recovery efforts were underway for the object that was shot down by a US fighter plane over Yukon Territory on his orders on Saturday. However, the weather was making it difficult to find the debris.
He stated that “Obviously there’s a pattern there, and the fact that we are seeing it in a significant amount over the past week is cause for interest”
This could easily escalate, despite the ET jokes.
Today’s White House podium joke was about ET.
There is more to UFO shooting-downs than amusement and even amusement.
One of the “objects” we know to be Chinese was one of them. Beijing claimed the South Carolina balloon that was shot down as a weather balloon. It is possible, even probable that other Chinese were involved in the downing of the balloon off South Carolina. This was part of China’s attempt to either test America’s limits or fish for intelligence.
This is the problem. China will seek an opportunity to retaliate for their shooting down of the “weather balloon” last weekend. This could easily escalate. In the Pacific region, surveillance aircraft are routinely operated by the Americans.
An official at the White House stated repeatedly that there was no US surveillance plane in Chinese airspace. He didn’t answer the question he was being asked. Is there any surveillance aircraft that the United States has in the airspace claimed by China?
China claims vast maritime territory offshore its southern coast. It is located within what Beijing calls a “nine dash line” that extends well into Filipino, and Malaysian waters.
American aerial surveillance activities in the area or over Taiwan, also claimed by China as its “renegade provincial”, could increase their risk of being shot down. It is possible that a manned plane is shot down by either side as a result of an escalation, miscalculation, or both.
The flying objects we know:
- The first object, which was described by US officials to be a Chinese spy balloon, was brought down from the Carolina coast on February 4.
- NORAD located near Alaska spotted a second object on 10 February. It was described as “about the same size as a small car” and it was downed.
- A day later, on February 11, a third, unidentified object was also tracked into US airspace above Alaska, before drifting over Canada. It was then shot down.
- Officials from the United States confirmed that another object, unidentified, was shot down by fighter planes at Lake Huron near Michigan’s border with Canada on Sunday.
- An F-16 US jet shot a missile from about 20,000 feet at the latest object, amid concerns about its altitude and flightpath, which could pose a danger to civilian planes.
- An anonymous senior US official described the object’s latest form as “an octagonal structure, strings hanging off, but with no discernible payload.”
- Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister, stated last week that teams were looking for the object that was shot over his country.