China’s Spy Balloons

Tyler Leu, Staff Writer

Very recently, the United States discovered an unidentified high-altitude balloon in the airspace. First spotted in Alaska, the military determined that the balloon was being used for surveillance. After the balloon had floated over the entire country and was over the eastern coast’s waters, it was shot down, greatly angering China. However, why did China go through all the trouble of operating a balloon when satellites would be permanent and discreet? Why would they expose their secrecy and use a balloon? These are the questions that will be answered in this article.

To begin, why did China go through all of the trouble of operating a balloon when a satellite would, undeniably, be the better option? Although this is debated, a China expert, Benjamin Ho, stated, “They have other means to spy out American infrastructure, or whatever information they wanted to obtain. The balloon was to send a signal to the Americans and also to see how the Americans would react” (BBC). This shows that China may have used the spy balloon as a test to see how quickly and how strongly the US would react to an unidentified object in the airspace.

Another reason China may have used a balloon is that using one allows them to use other technologies. Experts have said that “balloons can be fitted with modern technology like spy cameras and radar sensors” (BBC). Furthermore, balloons are much less expensive than satellites, as they do not need to be launched into outer space.

Due to all of these reasons, China decided to use a spy balloon instead of satellites. Colin Krawczak, Grade 8, adds, “China’s invasion of the private airspace of the United States would be considered an act of war by many countries, but the U.S. has handled it well so far.”