Colombia Releases Information on Second Chinese Balloon

Colombian officials have released further information about what is thought to be a second Chinese spy balloon after it was spotted over Latin America.

Sightings of mysterious Chinese balloons have alarmed governments across the Americas since one was first spotted over the continental U.S. in late January.

On the morning of February 3, the Colombian Air Force said it had detected an object at an altitude of above 55,000 feet after it entered the country's airspace.

The air force said on February 4 that an object with "characteristics similar to those of a balloon" was above the "northern sector of the country, mobilizing at an average speed of 25 knots."

A Colombian Air Force member
A serviceman is seen during the Hero's Day ceremony in Bogotá, Colombia on July 19, 2022. Colombian officials have shared more information about what is thought to be a Chinese spy balloon. Getty

It continued: "Through defense systems, the Colombian Air Force tracked the object until it left [Colombian] airspace. In this way, it was determined that it did not represent a threat to national security and defense, as well as to aviation safety."

Investigations have been undertaken to establish the origin of the object.

While Chinese business opportunities have expanded in Colombia in recent years, the country reportedly does not have strong political ties with Beijing.

According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies: "Colombia's political and security relationship with the PRC [People's Republic of China] has been limited.

"This arguably reflects Bogotá's perception that deepening political and security ties with the PRC might damage its close and important relationship with the United States.

"Nonetheless, despite perceptions that the PRC is more of a threat than an opportunity in the commercial arena, the presence of Chinese companies and their representatives in the country has expanded remarkably."

Pentagon officials confirmed on Friday that they were aware there was another balloon flying over the Americas.

Images shared on Twitter appeared to show the second balloon passing over Colombia and Venezuela.

A Chinese spy balloon that had been spotted above the U.S. was brought down off the coast of South Carolina.

While President Joe Biden had given the authorization to shoot it down on Wednesday, it was decided to postpone bringing the balloon down until it posed less risk to the public.

A February 4 Pentagon press release said: "Military commanders had determined downing the balloon while over land posed an undue risk to people across a wide area due to the size and altitude of the balloon and its surveillance payload."

The Pentagon said China launched the balloon in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the U.S.

According to The Washington Post, officials have said it is highly likely a third Chinese spy balloon is operating somewhere but did not give further details.

Chinese officials and state media responded to the U.S. reaction to the balloon with criticism and anger.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry described it as a "civilian airship" that was mostly used to monitor the weather, an explanation rejected by the Biden administration.

Relations between the U.S. and China are tense following Beijing's provocations towards Taiwan, which it regards as part of its sovereign territory. Taiwan itself strongly rejects such claims.

The spy balloon has sent relations plummeting further and led Secretary of State Antony Blinken to announce he had canceled a trip to Beijing, which would have been the first high-level meeting between the U.S. and China in years.

Biden has come under fire from his detractors over his handling of the spy balloon issue and Republican senators took to Twitter to express their disappointment with his decision to not shoot the balloon down earlier.

Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted on Friday: "First, shoot down the Chinese spy balloon over the United States.

"Second, shoot down the one over Latin America. Third, rebuild our military to stop China's global domination."

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.