Chinese Spy Balloon Exploited US Internet Provider for Locational Communication

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The Chinese surveillance balloon that traveled across the US earlier in 2023 was recently revealed by US intelligence officials.

A United States official disclosed that an American internet service provider was utilized intermittently to transmit navigational and positional data to China.

This connection proved pivotal in the US tracking the balloon’s movement and extracting crucial information while it journeyed across American airspace. 

However, the specific internet service provider involved in this communication remains unidentified.

It’s been confirmed that the balloon maintained its communication with Beijing throughout its US journey, harnessing a US-based network to establish contact with China. Nevertheless, the official clarified that this network connection wasn’t employed for transmitting intelligence directly back to China. 

Instead, the balloon stored pertinent information, including imagery and other data, for subsequent analysis, which became accessible after the balloon was intercepted and taken down in February.

China’s Disputed Claims vs. US Assessments

chinese-spy-balloon-exploited-us-internet-provider-for-locational-communication
The Chinese surveillance balloon that traveled across the US earlier in 2023 was recently revealed by US intelligence officials.

The FBI and the Director of the Office of National Intelligence declined to comment on these revelations. Meanwhile, efforts have been made to reach out to the Chinese Embassy in Washington for their perspective on the matter.

Despite China’s persistent claims that the balloon was a weather-related device that had veered off course, US assessments point to the balloon as a constituent of an expansive surveillance program orchestrated by the Chinese military. 

This extensive balloon fleet conducted numerous missions across multiple continents over recent years, as per US officials.

Interestingly, the US intelligence community concluded that Chinese Communist Party leaders did not intend for the balloon to breach US airspace. Following the incident, the operators of the surveillance program faced reprimands from Chinese authorities.

President Joe Biden disclosed in June that Chinese leader Xi Jinping had been surprised by the balloon’s presence in the US, expressing his agitation when the US intercepted it, highlighting Xi’s lack of prior knowledge. Biden drew parallels between Xi’s reaction and the responses of dictators when confronted with unforeseen situations.

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