Chinese Spy Balloon

What is China trying to Accomplish?


What Has Happened

On Thursday, February 2, 2023, the United States government addressed a massive balloon civilians had reported seeing in the sky. The government confirmed that they had already been tracking the balloon and believed it was a Chinese surveillance vessel. They also let citizens know that the balloon had been traveling above commercial airspace and did not present a physical threat to people on the ground unless shot down. This was a large part of their reasoning as to why they could not go ahead and shoot it down, although it was considered as the balloon flew over Montana. China has denied that the air balloon is associated with any act of espionage and instead claimed it is nothing more than a “civilian aircraft” meant to monitor meteorological readings. Apparently, the balloon went off course while taking weather readings and ended up flying directly across the United States. U.S. officials do not by the Chinese story and have released a statement claiming, “We know that it’s a surveillance balloon.”



The first major question that has to be asked with such an obvious spy balloon is what statement is China trying to send. The airspace intrusion comes at a time when U.S.-Chinese relations are critical and Secretary Blinken was supposed to meet with a Chinese representative in Beijing. This trip has now been suspended indefinitely due to the balloon’s presence in America. Some believe that “For example, China may have been waiting to see when and how U.S. military forces responded to this intrusion of U.S. air space,” which is definately an interesting thought. That being said the general belief surrounding the balloon is that it’s doing exactly what it is intended for, collecting data while traveling across the U.S. and instantaneously relaying that information to China.

U.S. Shoot’s It Down

The balloon was shot down off the coast of South Carolina shortly after 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. The Federal Aviation Administration closed the airspace and issued a ground stop at three airports in North and South Carolina. A senior defense official revealed that the balloon was taken down by an F-22 dispatched out of Langley Air Force Base using a single air-to-air missile. Already the presence of the balloon over American airspace has created a diplomatic dispute between Washington and Beijing, the latter claimed that the balloon was meant for observing weather conditions. The Chinese foreign ministry called the decision to shoot down the balloon “a clear overreaction and a serious violation of international practice. The U.S. had been tracking the balloon for some time as it traveled across America and elected not to take down the balloon until it was over water to ensure that no citizens were harmed in the process. The U.S. also took steps to ensure that any confidential information that the balloon may have been able to uncover was properly protected. 


The Recovery

Multiple Navy and Coast Guard vessels equipped with a heavy crane for recovery were in the area when the balloon was shot down. A senior military defense official revealed that while the debris of the balloon is spread out over a field of about seven miles, the water is very shallow and the recovery process is expected to be short. The North Carolina Police Department told residents to be aware that pieces of the balloon may wash ashore. Already the Navy has released images of pieces of the balloon being brought up from the bottom of the ocean.