Chinese Surveillance Balloons Flew in US Sky During Trump Government

A spy balloon of China was shot down by the US on February 4th, 2023. The balloon is believed to spend a week over the American airspace. According to Joe Biden – president of the United States – China has used it in order to collect entails about the American military bases. The thing is that this is apparently not the first Chinese balloon that hovered above the U.S.

The comment of the American Defense Department official that was made on the 4th of February which states that such balloons of surveillance were found more than once since 2016, and a top general explanation of the way these previous balloons weren’t spotted, have stirred up some questions. Did the Chinese balloons fly above the U.S when Trump was the president? is an example.

In a post in Truth Social, the former U.S president – Donald Trump – strongly denied the claim of

surveillance balloons flying above the U.S between 2017 and 2021 (Trump’s presidency) saying:  “the Chinese Balloon situation is a disgrace {…} China had too much respect for “TRUMP” for this to have happened, and it NEVER did. JUST FAKE DISINFORMATION!”

Right after the above post, interviews of some former administration members with media outlets were released. They said that according to their knowledge, no such thing has ever happened while they were in office.

The former adviser of Trump – Robert O’Brien – said to Fox News “Unequivocally, I have never been briefed on the issue.”

On the 4th of February, the Department of Defense website published a briefing of an unrecorded press conference with an identified former official of defense and senior official of military. The latter, talking about the China’s spy balloons, said that during the previous presidency, there were at least 3 occurrences of the Chinese surveillance balloons and one during the current administration. His exact words go as follow:

“PRC government surveillance balloons transited the continental United States briefly at least three times during the prior administration and once that we know of at the beginning of this administration, but never for this duration of time. We spoke directly with Chinese officials through multiple channels, but rather than address their intrusion into our airspace, the PRC put out an explanation that lacked any credibility.”

In an interview with The Washington Post, a member of the House Armed Services Committee – Rep. Michael Waltz – said that the defense officials have actually spotted similar surveillance balloons in U.S airspace in the past. That is, the 2023 incident is not the first.

On February 5th, the Pentagon was addressed by Axios for more info. “At this time we have nothing further to add beyond what was stated during [the briefing],” said an official.

A day later, the Department of Defense published a transcript of Glen VanHerck – the head of the North American Aerospace Defense Command in which he stated that the military failed to detect the previous balloons flights. He said:  

“So those {surveillance} balloons, so every day as a NORAD commander it’s my {…} responsibility to detect threats to North America. I will tell you that we did not detect those threats. And that’s a domain awareness gap that we have to figure out. But I don’t want to go in further detail.”

“The intel community, after the fact, I believe has been briefed already, assess those threats to additional means of collection from additional means and made us aware of those balloons that were previously approaching North America or transited North America. I hope that answers your question,” added he.

To VanHerck, the duration spent by the 2023 balloons above the U.S airspace is longer than that of the past incidents.

The past spy incidents – during the presidency of Trump – were detected above Texas and Florida. So, in addition to the balloon spotted during the current Biden’s presidency, we end up with five reported Chinese spy vessels in the late years. The Washington Post states that some previous incidents were detected over the skies of Guam and Hawaii.

In an article titled “Three Chinese Balloons Flew Over US During Trump Presidency”, Bloomberg website states that the fed. officials were in fact unaware of the past trips until January of 2021 when Biden presided.

Bloomberg reported that an anonymous official of the Trump’s administration said That due to the jamming systems that hid intent, they took long weeks before finding out that the vessels were China-made. Thus, Trump was not able to shoot any of the balloons down.

Mark Esper, former Defense Secretary of Trump’s administration, said: “I don’t ever recall somebody coming into my office or reading anything that the Chinese had a surveillance balloon above the United States.” 

After the 2023 discovery, one of the officials of the Biden administration said that the intelligence community was prepared to give information to the administration of Trump regarding the surveillance program of China that is believed  – by Biden administration – to be applied (in the late years) in many of the 5 continents’ countries.

“But the balloon that was shot down by the US military on Saturday {2023} was unique in both the path it took, down from Alaska and Canada into the US, and the length of time it spent loitering over sensitive missile sites in Montana,” officials said.

In a response to the above claims, the Chinese government said that the balloon was not a surveillance one, but merely some civilian craft meant for weather research which went astray.