Images of an unidentified flying object in Chinese airspace made headlines on social media, according to various Chinese media outlets. However, a science news writer suggested that the UFO could have been military technology—a missile—which could be part of a propaganda ruse to surprise citizens about the Chinese military.
The footage was caught in the early hours of June 2, showing a glowing dot in the sky that appeared to have a long cloudy plume to its side. The image was captured in several provinces near Beijing. Some people commented in their videos that it was a UFO, and some media outlets suggested that it was not the first instances of seeing such an object.
U.S. reports in both February and April said that China is rapidly advancing its rocket technology for military, political, and economic reasons. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaving such footage uncensored online may be a propaganda stunt to rouse nationalistic fervor in Chinese individuals.
Night UFO Sighting
Posts began appearing on Weibo at about 4:30 a.m. on June 2. All of them described the same UFO, a glowing dot in the sky followed by a large plume.
People from several provinces shared videos and photos of the object through social media accounts. The provinces included those more central to China, including Shandong, Shanxi, Henan, and Hebei according to multiple media reports.
Some of the individuals who shared on social media claimed that this was not the first time they saw such objects, according to Chinese online news outlet Passion News. The same report went on to say that astronomers claimed it was not a naturally occurring object.
State-sponsored media The Beijing News interviewed one expert on June 2 who said that there was a military activity planned in the Bohai Sea at the time the object was seen. Yu Jun, a writer for Chinese science website GuoKe, implied that the object could be military technology.
The Bohai Sea lays to the northeast of the provinces in which the object was seen; it is along the eastern Pacific coast of China.
The report suggested that the object was a rocket. The interviewee did not explicitly state that it was a rocket, but gave evidence of altitude and the UFO being visible in many neighboring provinces.
Potential Rocket Propaganda
Since any content unfavorable to the CCP is rapidly censored on social media, much-less reported by state-sponsored news, the content may have been allowed to remain on social media to act as positive propaganda for the Chinese military.
This potential propaganda comes with China’s drive for developing its space program to catch up with the United States. A report from the U.S.–China Economic Security Review Commission , released on April 11, says that China intends to be a space power in 2030, and a global leader in space technology by 2045.
Copious sharing of what may have been footage of a launch through both social media and online news platforms may have been a show of strength for the CCP’s military. “China’s [space] program is also more connected to the ‘levers of power,’ meaning its goals more often draw support from top leaders,” according to the Security Review Commission report.
China’s development of space-tech may also be a direct threat to the U.S. military. Though China says its space activities are peaceful, it has developed rockets with the capability of destroying U.S. satellites.
A Feb. 11 report from the Pentagon titled “Challenges to Security in Space” said that Beijing’s pursuit of counter-space weaponry is directly targeted at the United States and its allies. Attacking satellites would be used to “blind and deafen the enemy,” according to the report.