China: We've Spotted 10 US Balloons in Last Year Alone

Accusation comes amid a series of high-altitude shootdowns in American skies
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2023 6:10 AM CST
China: Hey, the US Sends Balloons Over Here, Too
A high-altitude balloon floats over Billings, Mont., on Feb. 1, 2023. The US shot it down days later.   (Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP)

The US has shot down three high-altitude objects in the last three days, and that's not counting the Chinese balloon before that. And while nobody seems quite sure what the latest objects were or where they came from—debris is still being collected—China made a point on Monday to accuse the US of flying illegal balloons of its own. "Since last year alone, US balloons have illegally flown above China more than 10 times without any approval from Chinese authorities," said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, per the BBC. "The first thing the US side should do is start with a clean slate, undergo some self-reflection, instead of smearing and accusing China."

The US insists that the original balloon was a surveillance device, though Wang reiterated China's claim that it was a civilian balloon gone astray. His claim about the American balloons could not be immediately corroborated. On Sunday, China said it was planning to shoot down an unidentified object above its eastern coast, though it was not immediately clear how that played out. Wang also accused the US of using warships and planes to spy on China, reports CNN. America, he added, is “without a doubt the world’s largest surveillance habitual offender and surveillance empire.”

So what's going on with the flurry of incidents in the skies of North America (over Alaska, Canada, and Lake Huron)? As a story at the New York Times explains, it's not necessarily the case that there are more balloons or similar objects up there. "But what is certain is that in the wake of the recent incursion by a Chinese spy balloon, the US and Canadian militaries are hypervigilant in flagging some objects that might previously have been allowed to pass." (More spy balloon stories.)

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