The Mystery of China’s Balloon

April 20, 2023

On January 28th, 2023 a Chinese-owned “balloon” aircraft, about the size of three city buses, was spotted floating past Alaska, Montana, Kansas, and the Carolinas (U.S. Department of Defense). On Feb. 4, 2023, fighter jets shot down the balloon a few miles from South Carolina. During that time, another balloon was spotted over Latin America. 

According to Clare Ashcraft, “U.S. officials have stated that Chinese balloons crossed into U.S. airspace at least one other time in the Biden presidency, and at least three during Trump’s.” Considering this isn’t the first time these balloons have been spotted and not dealt with, it is probably fair to say President Joe Biden handled it fairly well. According to Ashcraft of All Sides News, Biden called to shoot the balloon down. But, due to advice from the U.S. Military, he agreed to hold fire on it until it was over the Atlantic Ocean, far away from civilians. 

After being shot down, Navy divers collected the debris. This was an important action for the U.S. to gain knowledge of what technology the balloon was made out of. Collecting the debris was also an ethically healthy decision for ocean wildlife.

But it still begs the question, what was the true intent behind China’s Balloons? Was it to get U.S. citizens to react, which would cause more division in our nation? According to Ashcraft, Fox News said, “There’s no other way to put it; the country is in a seemingly bottomless bad mood. Dissatisfied with its leading presidential candidates, arguing when a balloon should have been shot down and profoundly pessimistic about America’s direction, there is no shortage of anger, fear, and frustration.”

Maybe this was part of China’s goal of sending over the balloon. China claimed it was for meteorological purposes, but David Vergun, writer for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) News explained “that China has a high-altitude balloon program for intelligence collection that’s connected to the People’s Liberation Army,” and “We know that these [Chinese] surveillance balloons have crossed over dozens of countries on multiple continents around the world, including some of our closest allies and partners.”

According to the U.S. DOD, the U.S. is working with allies like Canada to share information, gain perspectives, and recover remnants of the balloons. There is a chance China was seeking out intel of some kind, but at this time there is no verified reason for why China sent this balloon to cross over the U.S.

This whole situation leaves the diplomacy between the U.S. and China in a confusing spot…


Vergun, D. (2023, February 13). Chinese surveillance balloons global in scope, says official. U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved April 10, 2023, from,and%20partners%2C%22%20he%20added 

Ashcraft, C. (2022, June 23). Clare Ashcraft media bias rating. AllSides. Retrieved April 10, 2023, from 

Is it for Meteorological purposes? Surveillance? Should the U.S. be concerned?