Blinken says Chinese surveillance balloon program spread over 5 continents

(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed Wednesday that the U.S. assesses the alleged Chinese spy balloon shot down over the weekend was part of an expansive surveillance program aimed at gathering intelligence from targets around the globe.

Speaking at a joint press conference with NATO’s top official, Blinken said the administration was already sharing what the U.S. intelligence community uncovered with America’s allies and Congress.

“Senior administration officials are on the Hill this week, and we already shared information with dozens of countries around the world, both from Washington and from our embassies,” Blinken said. “We’re doing this because the United States was not the only target of this broader program, which has violated the sovereignty of countries across five continents.”

Meanwhile, at a Pentagon press briefing, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder disclosed that China had conducted four balloon surveillance missions over “sensitive sites” within U.S. territory during recent years, but did not disclose exactly when or where the incidents took place.

“They were over sites that would be of interest to the Chinese but I’m not going to go into the specifics,” Ryder said.

However, a senior U.S. official told ABC Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz that previous incursions into American airspace took place over Hawaii and off the coast of the continental U.S. — specifically near Coronado, California, and Norfolk, Virginia — where two of the nation’s largest naval bases are located.

That official also advised that the U.S. had briefed India, Japan, Vietnam, and Taiwan — all of which appear to have been surveilled by Chinese balloons.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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