Students react in the fallout of the Chinese balloon incident


Photo courtesy of Chase Doak

The balloon was spotted over Billings, Montana. Solar panels can be seen on the bottom of the massive balloon which powered its journey.

In the beginning of February, all of the United States was on alert with the shocking news that a Chinese high-altitude balloon was flying into U.S. airspace. This incident which lasted multiple days elicits interesting outcomes regarding the relationship between the United States and China, as well as responses from Americans.

“It was a fail of the Chinese government as the balloon was going to be found and the government covering it up as just a weather balloon going very far off course just continues to make them embarrassed on the global stage,” sophomore Nico Kane said.

This situation increased the tension between China and the U.S., as well as the world. This balloon has been the fifth balloon launched by China that has flown over the United States since 2017, but this incident has been the longest and most impactful.

“I was disappointed in the fact that countries are focused on spying on each other, there are bigger problems at hand for both China and the U.S., and in the entire world, and it’s not the best use of either country’s time for China to be spying like this,” sophomore Skylar Zheng said.

The balloon was about the size of three school buses and was powered by solar panels on the balloon. It was able to control the general direction of flight and speed while being more than 2,000 pounds.

“I didn’t expect the balloon to be that big, I was expecting it to be bigger than a regular balloon but I don’t know how the Chinese government expected it to be hidden,” junior Sky Carter said.

The balloon had been lingering over areas that may have provided sensitive information such as an air force base in Montana, as well as other military bases.

“It’s good that the U.S. shot the balloon down in my opinion, as there is no good reason for China to be trying to sneak this balloon into our territory,” junior Rachel Kurniawan said.

The balloon was shot down on Feb. 4 over South Carolina by an F-22 aircraft, which was the first air-downing for that type of plane. The downing of it was supported by president Joe Biden, while China was against it, continuing to say it was a civilian airship blown off course, and that the wreckage should be returned. Most of the wreckage was recovered by the U.S. navy.

“I think the United States could have found a way to get more information from the balloon before shooting it down, but if they can get most of the information even still having shot it down, then that is good as well,” freshman Taylor Simmons said.

Whether the balloon was indeed blown off course, or the legality of it being shot down was in favor of the U.S., the outcome of this incident means higher tensions between the United States and Chinese governments.