Foreign surveillance sparks public outrage



HEIGHTENED DOWNFALL: The Chinese “spy balloon” was shot down by American F-22 Raptor fighter plane off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4, 2023.

A U.S. fighter plane shot down a Chinese high–altitude balloon on Feb. 4, 2023 after the balloon was spotted orbiting in North American airspace, resulting in public outrage from Americans over the threat of foreign surveillance.

“The revelation … that the Chinese were able to fly surveillance balloons into American airspace without the U.S. military detecting it over a period of years has raised questions about an intelligence failure and prompted calls for investments in the country’s air defense and radar systems,” according to

While Chinese officials deny the balloon was used for spying and claim it was used for conducting weather research, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the U.S. government is convinced that the balloon was being used for surveillance purposes even if it was not the balloon’s original intent, according to The balloon has caused many Americans to panic about their safety and how much foreign surveillance affects their daily lives.

“This balloon, whether it malfunctioned or purposefully was lower [to the ground] … got into the public eye and then … took off in the media, which caused a chain of events,” said Jesse Oliver, AP U.S. History and Honors Contemporary World Issues teacher. “Or possibly, [the media] is just using [the balloon] to [divert the public] from something more important.”

Tensions continue to rise between the U.S. and Chinese governments after the balloon was shot down, and from Feb. 10–12, three additional unidentified objects in North American airspace were shot down by the U.S. However Representative Jim Himes of the House Intelligence Committee assures that these objects were not a threat to the U.S., according to

President Joe Biden has been critical about China’s espionage and surveillance of the U.S. and other countries across the globe, but he has made it clear that he does not believe these actions made by the Chinese government were meant to harm relations between the U.S. and China, according to

“Biden … expects to speak with [China’s President Xi] about the balloon but…he will not apologize for shooting it down,” according to

Even after the balloon and other unidentified objects were shot down, many Americans and politicians still believe that Biden is not being critical enough to the Chinese government about their actions, arguing that these types of espionage pose a threat to national security.

“The U.S. military knows far more than the public does, and I think any sort of spy balloon that China has, the U.S. is well aware of it,” said Oliver. “They just have to weigh the risk and reward of whether or not they should do something about [them].”