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Chinese spy balloon part of larger surveillance program: U.S. intel

Earlier this week, the U.S. briefed diplomats from 40 embassies on its findings from the recent aerial incursion.

Published: February 8, 2023 4:41pm

Updated: February 8, 2023 5:32pm

The suspected Chinese spy balloon that attracted national attention as it traversed the United States was part of a larger surveillance program, the U.S. intelligence officials have concluded.

The program has existed for several years under the direction of the People's Liberation Army, according to the Washington Post, and has surveilled Japan, India, Vietnam, Taiwan, and the Philippines, all territories and nations of strategic interest to Beijing.

The U.S. military shot down the recent balloon after it cleared the continental United States and entered the Atlantic Ocean. The decision of the Biden administration to allow the balloon to cross the country before shooting it down has been met with a negative reception from the general public. Nearly two-thirds of respondents disapproved of Washington's handling of the episode in a recent Trafalgar Group/Convention of States Action survey.

Similar balloons have reportedly been spotted on five continents.

"What the Chinese have done is taken an unbelievably old technology, and basically married it with modern communications and observation capabilities... It's a massive effort," one official said, per the Post.

Earlier this week, the U.S. briefed diplomats from 40 embassies on its findings from the recent aerial incursion.

News of the larger espionage effort from Beijing has alarmed U.S. allies closer to China.

"There has been great interest in this on the part of our allies and partners," a second U.S. official told the Post of the balloon affair. "Many of them recognize that they, too, may be vulnerable or susceptible to this or an object of interest to the PRC."

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.

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