March 21
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The alleged "spy balloon" shot down over the southeastern coast of the United States is part of an extensive surveillance program carried out by China's leadership. Such balloons have been collecting information on military facilities in various countries and regions of strategic interest to the PRC for many years, The Washington Post reported, citing U.S. intelligence sources.

According to their data, surveillance using balloons was carried out over Japan, India, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines, among others. They are controlled from Hainan Island off the southern coast of China, among other places; so far, such balloons have already been spotted on five continents, it further noted.

The Chinese are combining incredibly old technology with modern communications and intelligence capabilities to gather information about the armed forces of other countries, The Washington Post quoted an unnamed U.S. administration official as saying. According to the newspaper, the U.S. State Department has sent detailed information to all American embassies about the "spy balloons," which can also be shared with third countries. "Our allies and partners are very interested in it," the newspaper's interlocutor added.

The incident with the alleged Chinese "spy balloon," which was shot down in front of the South Carolina coast on February 4 after several days of surveillance, has further complicated the already strained relations between Washington and Beijing. In particular, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken canceled a visit to the Chinese capital scheduled for February 5 and 6. The head of U.S. diplomacy explained his decision by his reaction to "the presence of a Chinese high-altitude reconnaissance balloon in U.S. airspace."

The Chinese leadership dismissed accusations by Washington and the U.S. media as baseless speculation and propaganda, saying that the incident was used as a pretext to smear China. According to the Chinese side, the balloon was a civilian object designed specifically for meteorological purposes and entered U.S. airspace by accident.

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