INTERNATIONAL

Chinese spy balloon seen in the US communicated via an American internet provider, according to officials

According to a US source, the Chinese surveillance balloon that was seen above the country earlier this year seems to have sent position and navigational data on a regular basis back to China via an American internet provider. US-China ties, which were already tense, worsened further when the US shot down the balloon in February.

The person told CNN that the US was able to follow the spy balloon’s position and get intelligence as it was passing through American airspace thanks in part to the link. There was no mention of the internet service provider.

According to several current and former US officials, the Biden administration requested a highly covert court order from the federal Foreign information Surveillance Court in order to gather information about it while it was over the US, as reported by NBC News. Unknown at the time, this court order would have given US intelligence services permission to monitor the balloon’s electronic communications while it was above the country.

After being shot down in February, the US was able to examine the data and photographs that were kept in the balloon and utilized to convey intelligence back to China. China still insists that the balloon was a meteorological balloon that got lost in the wind.

According to assessments made by the US intelligence community, the Chinese military was behind a comprehensive monitoring campaign that included the spy balloon. US authorities claimed that in recent years, the balloon fleet has completed over two dozen operations across at least five continents.

The Chinese’spy’ balloon in the United States
When US President Joe Biden ordered the shooting down of a Chinese surveillance balloon on January 28 of this year after it crossed the continental US, the already tense ties between China and the US worsened. In addition, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled his trip to Beijing as a result of this.

China reacted sharply to the US military’s use of force against its civilian unmanned airship on February 5, demanding that the US pull out all of the electronics from the balloon’s wreckage. The US military shot down the Chinese surveillance balloon over the Atlantic Ocean on the same day. According to senior US sources, the balloon collected information from many key US military locations.

Beijing denied that it had sent espionage equipment to the US, even though it acknowledged that the enormous balloon had been launched from its soil. Rather, it described the helium balloon as a “weather data collector” and said that the wind was what propelled it in the direction of the US.

Later, Beijing said that during the previous 13 months, Washington had violated Chinese airspace at least 10 times. China claims that over ten times, US high-altitude balloons crossed Chinese airspace unlawfully and without permission from the appropriate Chinese authorities.

At a political event in June, US President Joe Biden said that Chinese President Xi Jinping was unaware of the balloon’s position and that Xi “got very upset” when the US shot it down because “he didn’t know it was there.” Then he made a comparison between him and “dictators” who were not aware of significant events.

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