WASHINGTON (AP) — China ball crossing the United States was equipped to collect intelligence signals and was part of an extensive military-linked aerial spy program that targeted more than 40 countries, the Biden administration said Thursday, outlining the scope and the capabilities of the huge ball that captivated the country. watch out before you get shot.
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The balloon fleet operates under the direction of the People’s Liberation Army and is used specifically for espionage, equipped with high-tech equipment designed to collect sensitive information on targets around the world, the United States said. United. Similar balloons have floated on five continents, according to the United States.
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The statement from a senior State Department official provided the most details yet linking the Chinese military to the balloon that crossed the United States before being shot down over the Atlantic Ocean last Saturday. . The public details are meant to refute China’s persistent denials that the balloon was used for espionage, including a claim on Thursday that US accusations over the balloon amount to an ‘information war’ against Beijing .
In Beijing, before the United States offered new information, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning repeated his country’s insistence that the large unmanned balloon was an airship. civilian weather forecast that had veered off course and that the United States had “overreacted” by shooting it down.
“It’s irresponsible,” Mao said. The latest accusations, he said, “could be part of the US side’s information war against China.”
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China’s defense minister declined to take a phone call from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to discuss the balloon issue on Saturday, the Pentagon said. China did not respond to questions about which government department or company the ball belonged to, or how it plans to follow through on its pledge to take further action on the matter.
The United States offered a starkly contradictory characterization of the ball and its goal. He said footage of the balloon collected by US U-2 spy planes as it crossed the country showed it was ‘capable of conducting signals intelligence gathering’ with multiple antennas and other equipment designed to download information. sensors and solar panels to power them.
The official said an analysis of the balloon’s debris was “inconsistent” with China’s explanation that it was a derailed weather balloon. The United States is reaching out to countries that have also been targeted, the official said, to discuss the scope of China’s surveillance program, and exploring potential action that “supported the balloon’s incursion into airspace.” American”.
The official provided details to reporters by email on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the matter, which had already forced the cancellation of a planned visit to China earlier this week by the Secretary of State. ‘State Antony Blinken.
The official said the United States was satisfied that the maker of the balloon shot down on Saturday had “a direct relationship with the Chinese military and was an approved supplier to” the military. The official cited information from an official PLA procurement portal as evidence of the company’s connection to the military.
This is not the first time that the US government has publicly denounced the alleged activities of the People’s Liberation Army. In a first-of-its-kind prosecution in 2014, the Obama administration’s Justice Department indicted five PLA hackers accused of breaking into the computer networks of major US corporations in an attempt to steal trade secrets.
Suspected PLA hackers were also charged in 2020 with stealing the personal data of tens of millions of Americans in violation of credit reporting agency Equifax.