This incident has stained relations between Beijing and Washington. According to NBC News, citing senior US officials, a Chinese balloon that flew over the United States in late January and early February managed to collect intelligence from several secret military installations.
The device would even be able to transmit information to Beijing in real time. According to sources interviewed by the American television channel, the information came mainly from electronic signals potentially intercepted by weapons systems or from messages from personnel at military bases, and not from images collected from a balloon.
The self-destruct mechanism is not activated
Much more information could have been obtained even without the efforts of the Biden administration. Potential sensitive targets have been relocated, NBC News reported, and authorities have been working to jam electronic signals.
Senior officials interviewed by US TV also explained that the balloon eventually shot down by the US military was equipped with a self-destruct mechanism that did not work, either because China chose not to activate it or because it did not work.
So far, Beijing has always denied that the craft that flew over the United States was a spy balloon, claiming it was a civilian airship and even believing that Washington “overdid it” by shooting it down. The American authorities, for their part, very quickly made it clear that the wreckage of the apparatus did not correspond to the wreckage of the weather balloon and that it was “clearly made for observation for the purpose of espionage.”
The remains of the plane shot down on February 4 are still being analyzed.