Is The Chinese Surveillance Baloon Anything New?

Today, the United States military shot down a high-flying surveillance balloon over safe coastal waters and began salvage operations to recover it according to reports. This balloon had been drifting over certain sensitive areas of the U.S., for days and had been tracked by military operations. The sensitive areas reportedly included some American Nuclear sites in Montana. The Chinese government reportedly had claimed that the balloon was nothing but a weather balloon that had drifted off course, taking it over the Continental United States by accident.

What Is This Balloon Thing All About?

QUOTE: “…..U.S. officials first detected the balloon and its payload on January 28 when it entered U.S. airspace near the Aleutian Islands. The balloon traversed Alaska, Canada and re-entered U.S. airspace over Idaho. “President Biden asked the military to present options and on Wednesday President Biden gave his authorization to take down the Chinese surveillance balloon as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to us civilians under the balloon’s path,” said a senior defense official speaking on background. “Military commanders determined that there was undue risk of debris causing harm to civilians while the balloon was overland.” …” END QUOTE.

CITATION — The above quotation is taken from the following source:

Does China Have A History With Balloon Surveillance?

Yes, China has a long history of using balloons for military surveillance.

The use of balloons as a form of reconnaissance dates back as far as the Warring States period (475–221 BC) in ancient China.

During World War II, the Chinese military was known to employ balloon-borne cameras to observe Japanese targets. In more recent years, China has continued to use balloons for surveillance purposes.

In the 1990s, the Chinese military reportedly used large helium balloons to track the movements of American aircraft in the South China Sea. In 2020, the Chinese military reportedly tested a high-altitude airship for reconnaissance purposes.

Why A Balloon As Opposed To A Military Surveillance Plane?

1. Cost: Balloons are much cheaper to purchase and operate than airplanes.

2. Stealth: Balloons are much more difficult to detect than airplanes, allowing for covert military surveillance operations.

3. Weather: Balloons can stay in the air for much longer periods of time than airplanes, allowing for longer surveillance operations.

4. Flexibility: Balloons are much more maneuverable in the air than airplanes, allowing for more precise surveillance operations.

5. Environmentally-Friendly: Balloons are much more eco-friendly than airplanes, which require significant amounts of fuel and generate noise pollution.

What Are Some Retaliatory Actions China Might Take Because We Shot Their Balloon Down?

It is hard to say because relations are strained between the United States and China right now and, according to the analysts, those relations do not seem to be getting any better anytime soon.

But here is a short list of the things that I personally think the Chinese might do in retaliation for our shooting down their spy balloon:

1. Issue a diplomatic protest and demand an explanation.
I think this would be their first response — to protest and to play dumb and to show their indignation.

2. Launch a retaliatory strike against US assets.
I think this is less likely unless those assets might be something like attacking some low flying surveillance asset that the United States might have in operation in the Chinese skies.

3. Impose economic or trade sanctions against the US.
I am not sure China is in a position to issue economic or trade sanctions against the USA unless it would be in some wholly token or symbolic manner but one can never be sure.

4. Increase military presence in the region.
I think this would be a knee jerk action and would not be very impressive because they have been doing that already.

5. Increase surveillance in the region.
Now that their little balloon ploy has been exposed, I am thinking that their best scientific and military minds are probably scrambling to find other means and methods of doing surveillance on the activities and assets of the United States. I am thinking satellites. Satellites make the most sense to me.

6. Increase propaganda against the US.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is going to happen and is probably already happening even as I write this post.

7. Complain to the UN and other international organizations.
Playing the victim to gain sympathy from others around the world is common among bad actors who get caught with their pants down.

8. Launch cyber attacks against US assets.
I believe this is a possibility although I am thinking (and it is nothing but my opinion), that doing cyber attacks and even cyber spying is somoething they might possibly have been doing for a long time now.

9. Lobby other countries to support their position.
This, to my way of thinking, is a no brainer.

10. Cut off diplomatic relations with the US.
They might threaten it, but I am not personally convinced that they would actually do it.

4 thoughts on “Is The Chinese Surveillance Baloon Anything New?

  1. A potentially deadly game of Russo/Chinese roulette. I am waiting for the day which I think is getting nearer now when the Russians and the Chinese sign a mutual defense pact of some kind. I have always said that and now I believe it is getting closer to becoming reality.


  2. As the Chinese already make extensive use of satellites for surveillance, you have to consider that using a balloon which can be seen by the naked eye must be some kind of ‘in your face’ provocation.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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