Pentagon: Suspected Chinese Spy Balloon Didn't Collect Information

    Pentagon: Suspected Chinese Spy Balloon Didn't Collect Information
    Last updated Jun 30, 2023
    Image credit: US Department of Defense [via Wikimedia Commons]


    • The Pentagon on Thursday claimed that the alleged Chinese surveillance balloon that crossed the US earlier this year didn't gather and transmit information back to Beijing, despite reportedly having intelligence collection capabilities.
    • Spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder argued that this assessed outcome was possible as Washington took countermeasures to mitigate the potential data collection by the high-altitude device.
    • The announcement comes as the Wall Street Journal reports that the balloon — which contained off-the-shelf US-made components intermixed with specialized Chinese equipment, according to preliminary findings from a probe — took in data while flying over North America but apparently failed to transmit it.
    • While not confirming that the craft used American gear as claimed by the Journal, Gen. Ryder stated that Chinese drones have relied on commercially available US equipment in the past.
    • Meanwhile, the US House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party has raised concerns over China's alleged use of American technologies, urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday not to renew a US-China science and technology cooperation agreement.
    • The balloon incident triggered a pause in high-level meetings between the US and Chinese officials, with Blinken only recently completing a long-delayed trip to Beijing while US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has still not officially met his Chinese counterpart.


    Democratic narrative

    The balloon incident was indeed an embarrassing one but for China's Xi Jinping rather than for the Biden administration. The Chinese dictator was caught off guard as he only learned that the surveillance craft was pushed off its route over Guam and Hawaii to Alaska and the continental US when it was shot down.

    Republican narrative

    Amid worries over the potential reaction of China, the White House has denied Defense Department requests to disclose its findings on the Chinese spy balloon and put parts of the debris on public display. Had it not been a major breach in national security, as Biden claims, there would be no reason to keep the nation in the dark.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 15% chance that there will be a US-China war before 2035, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Political split



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