the Chinese spy balloons captured images and video surveillance using American technology, US officials reported on Thursday. The balloon, which was shot down off the coast of South Carolina earlier this year, likely didn’t transmit the information back to the Chinese government based on a preliminary investigation, although the investigation is still ongoing.
in Februarythe Chinese government denied the balloon was intended for surveillance, claiming instead that it was a weather balloon that had blown off course. But when the US military retrieved the debrisit found technology suitable for capturing information from the ground including tools that are designed to gather and transmit data.
that technology has now been identified as commercially available in the US, with some of the technology readily available online, officials told the Wall Street Journal. The gear found in the debris supported the government’s belief that the balloon was intended to spy on the US and contradicted China’s claims that it was used for weather monitoring.
The latest reports that the balloon did not transmit valuable information to China contradicting an earlier piece by NBC in April which stated that sensitive military information was transmitted by the spy balloon overseas. The outlet cited two unnamed senior US officials and one unnamed former senior administration official, who reportedly said the balloon passed over multiple military sites and sent real-time information back to Beijing despite the Biden Administration’s best efforts to prevent it.
At the time of its discoverythe US military had moved potential targets to stop the balloon from picking up electronic signalsand Pentagon officials issued a statement in February, they were days before the balloon was shot down, saying it didn’t believe the balloon was able to capture sensitive information. “We assess that this balloon has limited additive value from an intelligence collection perspective,” officials said. “But we are taking steps, nevertheless, to protect against foreign intelligence collection of sensitive information.”
The new findings now seem to mirror the statement, as unnamed officials told the WSJ that Beijing had not obtained any information, but did not tell the outlet whether the balloon had malfunctioned or if the US military’s quick reaction prevented it from collecting data. Beijing has warned that it will be forced to take extreme action if the US government releases its