China boasts spy planes could be used as weapons against enemies: report

A new report reveals that Chinese People’s Liberation Army officials refute its Foreign Ministry’s claims that its spy balloons are only for weather research and details the offensive military uses of nearby spacecraft.

The startling findings coincide with remarks made last week by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, when he said the US wanted to “go further” with the controversy caused by the Chinese regime’s surveillance balloon hovering over the Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana in February, where the nuclear weapons are stored.

The Chinese surveillance aircraft, the size of three Greyhound buses, flew across the United States from Alaska starting in January 2023 until the massive aerial spy machine was shot down by an F-22 that fired a missile at it about six nautical miles off the coast of South Carolina in February. For nearly a week, the Chinese regime’s surveillance balloon allegedly accumulated information about the United States


Chinese hot air balloon towed by US jets

In this photo provided by Chad Fish, a large balloon drifts over the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of South Carolina with a fighter jet and its contrail visible below it on Saturday, Feb. 4. (Chad Fish via AP)

The China Media Studies Project run by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) released a detailed report, which includes materials on the China Military Network, an official outlet of the People’s Liberation Army, which published an article before the spy balloon entered the United States titled “An Almighty Weapon: How Amazing Are Nearby Spacecraft?”.

According to the Chinese article written by researcher Qiang Tianlin, “The emergence of near-space vehicles not only utilizes the connection between air and space, but also provides new ideas for air defense and anti-missile combat. When equipped with weapons platforms , near-spacecraft will enable faster strikes on a global scale, greatly accelerating the pace of warfare.”

The term “near space” refers to the region where airborne devices are sent into the sky above the flight paths of commercial airplanes.

Tianlin went on to say that “Achieving information superiority in future wars is becoming more and more critical.” She added that “near-space vehicles can play another important role: performing space countermeasures and strikes.”

The significance of the MEMRI documentation is that it reveals that Chinese spy balloons are designed for both espionage activities and military offensive attacks. The Chinese surveillance balloon debate has largely centered on the intelligence that the Chinese regime’s balloon has accumulated during its observation of American states.

Chinese balloon

The US Air Force has released its first images of the Chinese spy plane taken before it was shot down.


MEMRI’s report translated open-source Chinese government documents and new reports describing how “the Asian power’s military uses surveillance balloons, airships, and airship-borne hypersonic vehicles.”

Chinese official media has been making fun of the US after the US military shoots down its balloon. According to MEMRI, Chinese media said the US spent more than $1.4 million to pop a $50 balloon.

MEMRI has refined a paper released by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army which states that balloons can “induce and mobilize the enemy’s air defense system, providing conditions for the implementation of electronic reconnaissance, early detection evaluation of air defense systems and operational response capabilities.”

The Chinese regime insisted that the balloon was a civilian weather device. The Pentagon flatly rejected the Chinese explanation that it launched a weather balloon that flew off course, arguing that the Chinese deliberately sent the spy balloon into US airspace.

After the F-22 missile shot down the balloon, China’s state-run published an article titled “The airship was shot down and made an amazing strategic research article published nine years ago.” MEMRI noted that the article was written by Wang Xiangsui, a retired Chinese Air Force senior colonel. Wang wrote in his article that “airships that can stay in the air for long periods of time have the best hope of becoming the nucleus of a new generation of air defense systems.”


A man walks past a photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Museum of the Communist Party of China in Beijing March 3, 2023, ahead of the opening of the annual session of the National People’s Congress on March 5. (GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)


Heino Klinck, who served as US Deputy Assistant Defense for East Asia from 2019 to 2021, wrote an analysis in the MEMRI report on “Deflating Chinese Aggression.” He argued that regarding the balloon he spies that “These repeated incidents of Chinese provocations and dangerous behavior are not new. To put these incidents in historical perspective, they are a continuation of the PRC [People’s Republic of China] counter-normative behavior that has been going on for decades.”

A recent telling example Klinck cited was a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy J-11 “maneuvered unsafely within 10 feet of a US Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft flying in space.” international aircraft over the South China Sea”.

Chinese military

Freshmen take part in a military training at Southeast University on Oct. 22, 2021 in Nanjing, China’s Jiangsu province. (Yang Bo/China News Service via Getty Images)

Klinck served as a military attaché to China from 2004 to 2010 and is a board member of MEMRI. Chinese expert Klinck urged the United States and its allies and partners to cooperate “to counter Chinese aggression in all areas.”

Taiwanese military of the Chinese Air Force

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, an air force pilot from China’s People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command looks on as they conduct joint combat training exercises around Taiwan island on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. China it said on Monday it was rolling out menacing military exercises around Taiwan that have disrupted sea and air traffic and substantially raised concerns about potential conflict in a region crucial to global trade. (Wang Xinchao/Xinhua via AP)


He said, “The Biden administration has recently made some progress along these lines. However, before the US Secretary of State involuntarily assumes the role of an ardent suitor willing to engage China on his own terms, there is still much work to be done.” do to ensure that a “plan” in the relationship is indeed built on solid ground and not on the illusion of possible Chinese cooperation”.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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