Close-up of Chinese spy balloon was shot down
The Washington government asserted that the balloon “clearly violated” US sovereignty as well as international law.
The incident prompted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to announce the cancellation of a visit to China scheduled to start on February 3.
Beijing acknowledged the balloon was Chinese, but said it was a weather balloon that had been blown up and added that it regretted the incident.
“The hot air balloon came from China. It is a civilian airship used for research purposes, mainly meteorology,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on February 3.
Clip of hot air balloon being shot down seen from afar
US President Joe Biden congratulated the pilots on a job well done. “They shot it down successfully. I want to commend our pilots,” Biden said.
On February 5, China’s Foreign Ministry expressed its dissatisfaction and strongly opposed the US use of force to shoot down its airship.
A US expert said the Chinese spy balloon that the Pentagon detected flying over sensitive US missile sites could be guided by advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
William Kim, a spy balloon expert at the Marathon Initiative in Washington, told AFP news agency that hot air balloons are valuable reconnaissance equipment and are difficult to shoot down.
According to Kim, China’s first hot air balloon looks like a normal weather balloon but has different features. It carries quite large and visible electronic equipment to collect information.
The device is powered by solar panels and appears to be equipped with advanced navigation technology that the US military has not yet put to use.
Kim said AI has helped the Chinese balloon adjust its altitude by reading changes in the surrounding air, helping it to go where it wants to go.