April 3 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration said on Monday it could not confirm reports that China was able to collect real-time data from a spy balloon that flew over key military bases earlier this year.
NBC News reported on Monday that a Chinese balloon was able to transmit data to Beijing in real time despite the US government’s efforts to stop it — a revelation that deepened Republican criticism of Biden for waiting for the balloon to arrive. A safe place before firing.
NBC cited two current senior U.S. officials and one former senior executive.
The White House and Pentagon told reporters they could not confirm that account. Pep. The Pentagon said experts were still examining debris collected from the balloon after it was shot down on the 4th.
“I cannot confirm that there was a real-time transmission from the (Chinese) balloon at this time,” Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said, adding, “We are now analyzing.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing and the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
The balloon, which Beijing denies was a government spy ship, flew over the United States and Canada for a week before being shot down off the Atlantic coast by the US military on Biden’s orders.
U.S. officials believe the high-altitude balloon was controlled by Beijing and was able to maneuver as it flew over the U.S., sometimes going left or right, Reuters reported.
Yet at the time, US officials downplayed the balloon’s impact on national security and said they had taken steps to limit its ability to collect information on key US sites. It also downplayed the idea that the balloon was more capable of gathering information than Chinese spy satellites, while acknowledging the balloon’s ability to hover over the US for longer than a satellite.
The Chinese balloon incident prompted US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to postpone a planned visit to Beijing and further strained relations between Washington and Beijing.
The episode caused an uproar in Washington and led the US military to search the skies for other objects not caught on radar.
The FBI has been leading the analysis since the U.S. said on Feb. 17 that it had successfully completed recovery efforts from South Carolina to collect sensors and other debris from a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon.
(Reporting by Idris Ali, Bill Stewart and Doina Chiaku in Washington and Juby Babu in Bangalore; Editing by Louise Heavens and Bernadette Baum
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