The White House confirmed Wednesday that China has used balloons to spy on other countries, saying the devices have been spotted on five continents.
“These balloons are all part of a [People’s Republic of China] fleet of balloons developed to conduct the surveillance operations, which have violated the sovereignty of other countries,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. “And over the past several years, Chinese balloons have previously been spotted all over countries across five continents.”
She added, “We have been in touch with allies and partners on this issue.”
Ms. Jean-Pierre didn’t offer further details or say which countries have been targeted by Beijing with spy balloons.
Reports popped up in overseas news outlets Wednesday morning saying China has sent such balloons over India, Japan and other countries. The reports say the surveillance balloons, which have operated for several years, are part of an extensive Chinese surveillance program to collect information on military assets.
A U.S. military fighter jet shot down a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, a week after it entered U.S. airspace.
When asked if President Biden will address the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Ms. Jean-Pierre said she didn’t have any conversations to preview.