National Security

NATO chief: Chinese balloon demonstrates behavior that poses threats to alliance members

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference at the end of a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain on Thursday, June 30, 2022.(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the Chinese spy balloon that drifted across the United States last week demonstrates behavior that threatens members of the Western alliance. 

Stoltenberg said at a press availability with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday that the incident “confirms a pattern” in which China has significantly invested in military capabilities, including with surveillance and intelligence platforms. 

The NATO chief said Chinese intelligence operations have increased in Europe with satellites, cyber activities and balloons like the one that traveled over the U.S. 

“We need to be aware of the constant risk of Chinese intelligence, and then step up what we do to protect ourself,” Stoltenberg said. “And we need also to react in a prudent, responsible and vigilant way, as we have seen the United States has reacted to this specific balloon over North America and United States.” 

Stoltenberg’s remarks came after a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed that the balloon is connected to a more widespread surveillance program being run by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. 

The spokesperson told reporters that the Defense Department knows of at least four other balloons that have previously flown over U.S. airspace, saying that the program has been operating for several years. 

Officials have in some cases not known that an object belonged to the Chinese government until after it left the U.S. 

The spokesperson said balloons have also been observed over five continents and regions. 

China has said the balloon was intended to conduct meteorological research and drifted off course because of wind, but U.S. officials have rejected this assertion. 

The balloon was shot down on Saturday after it drifted over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Carolina. Officials chose not to shoot it down earlier because of fears that falling debris could pose risks to public safety. 

Stoltenberg said the incident demonstrates that security needs to be global instead of just regional. He said he visited East Asian countries including Japan and South Korea last week, and they stressed the importance of NATO and its partners increasing their cooperation to counter the “challenges” coming from China. 

“What happens in Asia matters for Europe, and what happens in Europe matters for Asia and also, of course, for North America,” he said.

Tags Antony Blinken Chinese spy balloon Chinese surveillance balloon Jens Stoltenberg Jens Stoltenberg NATO

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video