Canada Summons Chinese Ambassador to Explain Spy Balloon

Canada Summons Chinese Ambassador to Explain Spy Balloon
A high altitude balloon floats over Billings, Mont., on Feb. 1, 2023. The U.S. is tracking a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that has been spotted over U.S. airspace for a couple days, but the Pentagon decided not to shoot it down due to risks of harm for people on the ground, officials said on Feb. 2, 2023. (Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP)
Peter Wilson
The federal government has summoned China’s ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, to explain the high-altitude surveillance balloon currently hovering in U.S. airspace, which the Pentagon has said was “most certainly” launched by Beijing.
“We will continue to vigorously express our position to Chinese officials through multiple channels,” Global Affairs Canada (GAC) spokesperson Jason Kung said in an emailed statement to The Epoch Times on Feb. 3.
Canada’s National Defence Department (DND) says the balloon is actively being tracked by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and is monitoring the possibility of a “potential second incident.”
“Canada’s intelligence agencies are working with American partners and continue to take all necessary measures to safeguard Canada’s sensitive information from foreign intelligence threats,” DND said in a statement on Feb. 2.

“We remain in frequent contact with our American allies as the situation develops.”

Chinese authorities have confirmed the balloon to be from China but claim it was launched by a civilian for weather research and that it simply flew off course.

“Clearly the intent of this balloon is for surveillance,” said a senior Pentagon official while speaking to reporters on Feb. 2, adding that the balloon’s current flight path carries it “over a number of sensitive sites,” including airbases and strategic nuclear missile sites.

“Our best assessment at the moment is that whatever the surveillance payload is on this balloon, it does not create significant value added over and above what the PRC is likely able to collect through things like satellites in low Earth orbit,” said the official.

Canadian Airspace

According to a report by Global News, the balloon has spent at least some time in Canadian airspace. The Epoch Times asked DND for confirmation but didn’t receive a response.
Although the balloon’s exact travel route is still unknown, U.S. meteorologist Dan Satterfield traced it backward and theorized that it originated in central China and flew over Alaska and parts of Canada on its way to Montana.

“By this time tomorrow it will be somewhere in [southeastern] Missouri,” he added in a Twitter post on Feb. 2.

The U.S. reportedly weighed the possibility of shooting the balloon down, but defence officials strongly recommended against the idea due to the “risk to safety and security of people on the ground from the possible debris field.”
Mimi Nguyen Ly and The Canadian Press contributed to this report.