The Chinese Spy Balloon Was Reportedly Full of American Technology

(Photo Credit: Adi Goldstein/Unsplash)

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President Biden isn’t talking about the balloon, okay?

While public statements on the matter are still minimal and the White House has yet to release an official report, government personnel told The Wall Street Journal that the infamous Chinese spy balloon from a few months back was loaded with US technology, some of which sounds like stuff you can buy on Amazon.

Don’t Worry About the Balloon, Man

In February, some sort of an aircraft, which Beijing still says was a civilian-made weather balloon, was spotted floating over US and Canadian airspace. For more than a week, it drifted above Alaska, British Columbia, and several other contiguous US states — some of which contained military bases used for firing ballistic missiles — before finally being shot down off the coast of South Carolina.

To avoid exacerbating tensions between the US and China even more, the White House has remained rather tight-lipped about the whole scenario. Biden has even said the balloon fiasco was not a big deal and that the “chapter should be closed.” Meanwhile, decent progress was made earlier this month when Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited Beijing, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is expected to do the same in July. All of this sets the stage for a possible future meeting between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

But that hasn’t stopped those in-the-know from speaking up:

  • The balloon was “crammed with commercially available US gear, some of it for sale online, and interspersed with more specialized Chinese sensors and other equipment to collect photos, video and other information,” according to the WSJ. Officials said it appeared any data the balloon collected was not transmitted back to China.
  • China remains the US’ third-largest economic partner, behind Canada and Mexico, accounting for roughly 11% of all of America’s trade. Despite the two nations’ heated rivalry, American companies like Apple, Tesla, and Nike have achieved great success in the Middle Kingdom, so Washington has a keen interest in keeping the trading door as open as possible.

Honey, Not Vinegar: China should want to keep the door open, too, as its National People’s Congress passed laws this week that will give Xi further control over how the country responds to Western security and economic threats. We’ve already seen raids on corporate offices of Western companies and frustrating levels of oversight and censorship. If things get worse, foreign investment could deflate even faster than it has.