According to media reports, further proof of China‘s ‘spy’ balloon activity, including flights over Japan and Taiwan, has been discovered.
According to the BBC, Japan has verified that balloons have flown over its territory and has stated that it is prepared to shoot them down in the future.
An suspected Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down off the coast of the United States earlier this year, causing tensions between the two countries.
China stated the balloon observed over the northwestern United States in late January was a civilian airship used for scientific study such as meteorology, and that it was an unintentional and rare incident.
Former CIA East Asia specialist John Culver told BBC Panorama that this “had been not just a one-off, but a continuing effort dating back at least five years.”
He said the Chinese balloons were “specially designed for these long-range missions” and some had “apparently circumnavigated the globe”.
The BBC discovered many photographs of balloons crossing East Asia while working with Synthetaic, an artificial intelligence startup that combed through massive volumes of satellite data.
Corey Jaskolski, the company’s creator, discovered evidence of one balloon traversing northern Japan in early September 2021. These photographs have never been seen before.
According to the BBC, Jaskolski believes the evidence leads to the balloon being launched from far within China, south of Mongolia.
Japan is a close friend of the United States, with more American military stationed there than in any other country.