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US to declassify more intelligence on China’s global spy balloons: Report

Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover a high-altitude surveillance balloon off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Feb. 5, 2023. (U.S. Fleet Forces)
February 15, 2023

The Biden administration is in the process of declassifying additional details about Chinese spy balloons over other nations that reportedly include dozens of countries, according to unnamed officials, CNBC reported.

The news comes as the U.S. military shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon over the Atlantic Ocean near South Carolina and reports of shooting down at least one other “unidentified object” over Alaskan waters.

“Other regions of the world have also been subjected to these brazen violations of sovereignty, as well,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Monday.

“We think it’s important in the first instance, that we share as much as we can because these are challenges that many of us have and will continue to have to confront together.”

The intelligence is expected to be declassified later this week, according to the report.

A senior State Department official also revealed information about China’s surveillance balloon program on Thursday that shared some details on the disturbing development.

READ MORE: Video: Pompeo blasts China as ‘liars’ for spy balloon denial

The official stated the recently shot down balloon “was capable of conducting signals intelligence collection operations” and was part of a fleet that had flown over “more than 40 countries across five continents.”

The spokesperson also claimed knowledge of the Chinese balloon program as an intelligence-gathering operation.

“We know the PRC used these balloons for surveillance,” the official said. “High-resolution imagery from U-2 flybys revealed that the high-altitude balloon was capable of conducting signals intelligence collection operations.”

Lawmakers on both sides have spoken out against the Chinese balloons and the Biden administration’s response. Republican Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) introduced a resolution to condemn China over the issue.

“The Chinese Communist Party continues to oppress the Tibetan people. Tibetans are subject to the CCP’s mass surveillance and censorship tactics and are arbitrarily killed or imprisoned for expressing their desire for freedom. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan bill to reject the CCP’s claims that their tyranny over Tibet is legitimate and will assert the Tibetan people have a say in their own future,” McCaul said in a statement alongside the resolution.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) also addressed the pending resolution last week.

“Clearly, we’re focused on condemning China for sending a spy balloon into United States territory. Obviously, we have a lot more questions about what happened and when the administration knew it,” he said.

“Those are separate questions going on, and we need to have a briefing on it. But in the meantime, we’re trying to get an agreement with” the committees working on the proposal, he added.