In what seems like a festive situation, tensions between China and USA rise again – this time with helium.
Tensions were high as American officials noticed a Chinese airship flying over their land. The high-altitude airship was shot down this Saturday, claiming there was danger of surveillance and falling debris over their land. This was not changed even after talks by Chinese officials clarifying that it is just a weather airship that flew astray.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called off a visit to Beijing in retaliation for the ‘irresponsible’ act of allowing the ‘surveillance’ balloon to go astray all the way to America.
It was last spotted in Missouri, and they expect it will reach the Carolinas.
There has also been a second Chinese balloon flying over Latin America.
The reason this incident has made headlines is that the past year has been extremely tense between the two countries in terms of diplomacy and the Russ-Ukrainian war.
This past Saturday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that Beijing “never violated the territory and airspace of any sovereign country.”
In a phone call with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and senior foreign policy official, Wang Li discussed that maintaining communication at all levels was extremely important, especially to be able to continue maintaining calm in “unexpected situations.”
Wang Li also accused some American media press releases of unnecessary hype and ‘groundless conjecture’ regarding this incident. He claimed that the media and certain American politicians used the balloon flying off course as “a pretext to attack and smear China.”
Perhaps a reason that caused this concern on the American side is that the airship flew over the US state of Montana, which hosts multiple sensitive nuclear missile sites.
This incident has ruined the eve of a long-planned visit that was supposed to happen this week to discuss security, Taiwan, and Covid-19. It would have been the first high-level US-China meeting in years.
Even if the balloon was traveling at an altitude that did not present any real military threat to people on the ground, there were still concerns about its presence being a threat to surveillance.
Even if China officially acknowledged the balloon as its property and as it being a civilian airship for weather research, with a deviated route due to unprecedented wind motions, the US Pentagon is still referring to it as a surveillance balloon.
The Pentagon recently released a statement that the spy balloon is actually part of a program China had implemented in the past several years. The Pentagon believes that China has been using these spy balloons to gather information on American military bases, as well as military bases of other nations.
The last time these balloons were seen over American territory was during the Trump and Biden administration. At the time, they were not identified as surveillance balloons. However, with the wreckage and retrieval of this one, they have confirmed that they are the same model as the four balloons flying over American airspace a few years ago.
Following the shoot-down of the balloon, there was a call between China’s defense minister and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, but China refused to pick up the phone.
This refusal to answer is further supported by China’s government refusing to answer whom the balloon belonged to and refusing to take up action to discover who it belonged to.
The US is currently engaged in investigating and processing the debris from the shot-down balloon.
So far, they have discovered that these balloons can fly close to the earth without being detected on the radar like other surveillance aircraft. Therefore, they are not immediately identified or predictable to military intelligence. Also, they produce very clear imaging and geo-mapping due to the fact that they float slowly and, therefore can take in a lot of detail.
In other news, read here how Ron Desantis wants to make it easier for people in Florida to kill.