The downed spy balloon was part of the Chinese military’s program

The downed spy balloon was part of the Chinese military's program

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that an alleged Chinese spy balloon that recently flew across the continental United States is part of an extensive Chinese military surveillance program.

The Washington Post was the first to report on the balloon’s connection to the People’s Liberation Army of China. The balloon is part of a flotilla of unmanned balloons operated in part from Hainan province on China’s south coast.

The program has carried out surveillance missions in countries and areas of increasing strategic interest, including Japan, India, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman briefed about 150 foreign diplomats at 40 embassies about the program.

A U.S. fighter jet shot down the balloon Saturday as it flew over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Carolina.

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