Rep. Adam Smith, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, stated on Monday that the three objects that were shot down by U.S. fighter pilots over North America since Friday were “very probably” launched by China in order to spy on the United States. Smith made the statement.
In an interview with USA TODAY, Representative Smith, Democrat of Washington, stated that researchers who utilize balloons should normally tell the Federal Aviation Administration before flying the balloons in airspace over the United States. This did not occur with the enormous Chinese surveillance balloon that was shot down on February 4 off the coast of South Carolina, nor with the two planes that were shot down over the United States and one that was shot down over Canada over the weekend.
“It’s almost certainly a case of the Chinese trying to come up with new or creative ways to spy on us,” Smith said. “We need to respond and block this avenue.”
Tensions have been heightened with China, which is the world’s second largest economy behind the United States and a major competitor to American dominance around the globe, as a result of the first balloon as well as the succeeding objects. Smith stated that there are a number of potential solutions to the problem that currently exists.
Smith suggested one solution, which is to warn China to stop doing it. An early effort to accomplish this goal was unsuccessful because top Chinese officials would not take Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s call. If that doesn’t work, the Pentagon’s only other choice is to shoot them down, which is a job that’s not too difficult for American pilots, according to Smith.
Smith echoed the appeal for calm, pointing out that major powers often conduct espionage against one another. According to him, the government of the United States is actively working to limit the information that China obtains through the use of spy satellites. The Chinese cannot get a competitive advantage in the surveillance game by using balloons.
“It’s not like they’re learning some deep dark secret that makes us extra vulnerable here,” he said. “We definitely want to stop them from doing it, as we want to try and stop all efforts of surveillance on the U.S. by China or anybody else for that matter. But, no, I don’t think it’s something that the American public needs to worry a great deal about.”
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