Chinese surveillance balloon over Lake Huron sparks controversy

According to, Air Force Capt. Samuel “RaZZ” Larson, F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team commander and pilot, performs an aerial maneuver during the team’s certification flight at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 9, 2022. Photo taken by Air Force Staff Sgt. Marcus M. Bullock.

Harrison Balfour '24, Photographer

On Jan. 28, 2023, a Chinese surveillance balloon floated over Alaska, entering US airspace. No action was taken until Feb. 4, when an American jet shot down the balloon over South Carolina.

The balloon recovery was delayed until Feb 8. because of the rough seas the balloon fell into. The balloon was found to have been carrying a variety of surveillance equipment. With motors and solar panels connected, the balloon was able to be steered and controlled wirelessly.

The balloon was a part of a Chinese “global surveillance fleet” the Biden administration confirmed. The balloon was one of many that have been flown over more than 40 countries the Administration said. Many experts believe that the balloon’s goal was surveillance on the military in America’s homeland.

The incident quickly made headlines around the world, with many expressing concerns of Chinese espionage in America. The event added more coal to the fire of rising tensions between America and China.

After United States’ accusations of spy involvement by China, Chinese authorities denied any connection to the incident and claimed the balloon was a research tool, not a surveillance device. However, U.S. surveillance planes took pictures of the balloon and the equipment connected did not match any weather balloon. The U.S. Government has warned China to stop these surveillance attempts.

On Feb. 12, 2023, another “high altitude object” was shot down above Lake Huron. Three of these “high altutude objects” have been shot down in U.S. airspace since the first balloon was recovered. Many suspect another Chinese spy balloon.

In response to the recent violations of U.S. airspace by the balloons, the U.S. Military has increased surveillance at certain altitudes, including more radar surveillance. Hopefully, these attempts will make locating and stopping future spy attempts from foreign nations easier.

The Balloons themselves pose no threat, as no weaponry was found on board and could not be carried by the balloon, but the surveillance and information the balloons collect is a direct threat to America’s safety. With tensions rising, many advocate for a diplomatic solution to the issue while others call for more aggressive action to protect America’s security.