Chinese spy balloon did not collect data when it flew over U.S.: Pentagon – National

A spokesman for the Pentagon said on Thursday that it assessed that the suspected Chinese reconnaissance balloon, which flew over Canada and the U.S. mainland earlier this year, did not gather any intelligence during its flight.

Spokesman Gen. Brig Pat Ryder told reporters the balloon had “intelligence-gathering capabilities” that could have sent classified material to Beijing, but no data appeared to have actually been collected. rice field.

“Our current assessment is that we didn’t collect (information) while in transit through the United States,” he told reporters.

At the time the balloon was flying over the continental United States, Pentagon officials took steps to ensure that classified information could not be seen or captured by the balloon.

“We believe it was not collected while transiting or flying over the United States, and certainly our efforts contributed[to that],” Ryder added.

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Click to play video: 'Chinese spy balloon's flight path over Canada revealed by defense official'

Defense official reveals flight path of Chinese spy balloon over Canada

The balloon entered North American airspace in late January, crossed Alaska, flew over the Yukon Territory and central British Columbia, and hit the mainland United States in early February.

It then passed through several states before U.S. President Joe Biden ordered military planes to shoot down the balloons off the coast of Carolina on February 4. The debris was then collected and analyzed by US government agencies, including the Pentagon and the CIA. No data was collected or transmitted to China.

The Canadian government has also taken steps to protect classified information, but did not say whether any data was collected as the balloon flew over western Canada, citing a US-led investigation. Global News has reached out to the Department of Defense for comment on its latest assessment.

Earlier this year, US media reports claimed China was able to collect real-time data from reconnaissance balloons as they flew over sensitive military installations. Both NBC News and CNN cited current and former US officials.

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At the time, the White House and the Pentagon said they could not confirm these reports, noting that the analysis was still ongoing.

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NATO Secretary Stoltenberg, US’s Blinken Warns of Increased Surveillance and Intimidation by Chinese Military After Balloon Incident

The Pentagon’s assessment Thursday came after new reports in The Wall Street Journal and ABC News that China’s reconnaissance balloons were built using at least some off-the-shelf U.S.-made components. , raising questions about how these parts were obtained.

Ryder did not confirm the reports, but the Department of Defense is “aware of previous instances, such as drones and other capabilities, where off-the-shelf commercial components made in the United States were used in capabilities.” Stated.

“So it’s not surprising in itself,” he added when asked about the coverage.

The Chinese balloon incident prompted NORAD to scour North American airspace for signs of other foreign airborne objects. As a result, the military aircraft shot down three more unidentified objects. One was shot down over Alaska on 10 February, another over the Yukon on 11 February, and a third over Lake Huron on 12 February.

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U.S. intelligence believes the three objects did not originate from China, are not linked to any other foreign surveillance activity, and are likely “benign” civilian commercial or research balloons. I’m here. Search operations for the three objects were canceled due to difficult weather conditions.

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As for the balloon that was shot down on February 4, China denied that it had any intelligence-gathering function, claiming it was a benign weather balloon.

But the incident further soured US-China relations, with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken postponing a February visit to China aimed at resetting the increasingly strained relationship between the two superpowers.

Mr. Blinken eventually made it to North Korea earlier this month, but shortly after Mr. Blinken’s trip ended on relatively favorable terms, Mr. Biden angered the Chinese government by calling Chinese President Xi Jinping a “dictator.” The shadow immediately faded as soon as I let it go.

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Biden brought up the balloon incident during remarks made at a 2024 re-election fundraiser.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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