The launch of a Chinese balloon off the US coast caused a scandal in February. The Pentagon has now stated that the balloon did not collect any intelligence information while flying over the United States. The military contributed to this.
The suspected Chinese spy balloon shot down by the US military over the Atlantic in February after a day-long flight over the US has not collected any intelligence information, according to the US Department of Defense. This comes from a statement by Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder.
“As you heard at the time, we were aware that the balloon had intelligence-gathering capabilities,” Ryder told reporters. “But it was, and is now our assessment, that no collection occurred during transit or overflight of the United States.”
Accordingly, the US had “taken steps to limit the collection of information by the balloon”. Those efforts “certainly helped,” Ryder said, but gave no further explanation.
Beijing denied all accusations
The day-long overflight of a Chinese balloon over the United States led to a scandal between Washington and Beijing earlier this year. A US fighter jet finally shot down the balloon in the US East Coast area. According to US information, it was a Chinese spy balloon. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled his trip to China scheduled for February.
The government in Beijing rejected the US allegations and spoke of a civil balloon for meteorological purposes that had gone off course. At the time, a US official said the balloon had multiple antennas. According to him, it was “fitted with solar cells large enough to generate the energy needed to operate several active reconnaissance sensors”.
Blinken made little progress
US Secretary of State Blinken made up for his trip to China last week. Just before leaving, President Joe Biden downplayed the balloon incident, saying he didn’t think the Chinese leadership knew where the balloon was and “what it contained and what was going on.”
During Blinken’s visit, both sides announced their intention to stabilize the ailing relations. The United States and China agreed to resume diplomatic procedures that State and Party leader Xi Jinping agreed with Biden in Bali last year. However, Beijing rejected a request from Washington that regular communication be resumed between the military of both countries.
Biden called Xi a dictator
US President Biden praised his chief diplomat’s trip last Monday as a “damn good job”. “I expect to meet President Xi in the near future,” Biden said. Shortly thereafter, however, he caused irritation when he compared state and party leader Xi Jinping to a “dictator” at an election campaign event in the state of California.
Beijing reacted with outrage. Such a comparison is “extremely absurd and irresponsible,” said a spokeswoman for the State Department. Biden’s statements have no factual basis, violate diplomatic protocol and China’s political dignity.
Republicans had criticized the handling of the balloon
The current Pentagon statements about the Chinese balloon also have a domestic component. Republicans had criticized the actions of the government of Democratic President Biden and, among other things, criticized the late launch. With a view to the 2024 presidential campaign, in which Biden wants to run again for the Democrats, handling the balloon could still play a role