On March 13th, The New York Times published a categorized report highlighting international aerial spying. This report came right before the sighting of an apparent Chinese surveillance balloon near the Afar Region of Ethiopia.
The report focused on the Russian Air Force as well as noted tensions between the U.S. and China concerning their respective spy networks in the air. It was revealed that the Russian Air Force is increasingly flying surveillance aircraft along U.S. borders in what appears to be increased monitoring of American activities. The report also detailed how China has begun to challenge prevailing international conventions concerning the use of military force and the deployment of spy aircraft by developing drones and balloons to do their work.
The report drew attention to a number of international treaties that would become relevant in light of such occurrences. It noted that increasing tensions between the United States and China had prompted discussions in the United Nations regarding the use of drones and other surveillance techniques, but no common agreement had been reached. The U.S. has long advocated for the one country-one vote model in which all countries are given equal status and a say in global decision making.
In the wake of this report, a Chinese surveillance balloon was spotted by U.S. intelligence officers in the Afar Region of Ethiopia. This balloon sparked further discussions about international law and the use of surveillance technology in peacetime. Such activity has raised eyebrows within the international community and could potentially lead to harsher criticism of the U.S. and China from those who see their actions as inappropriately aggressive or intrusive.
The New York Times report served as a reminder that countries are increasingly using aerial espionage to monitor activities around the world. It highlighted the lack of a shared international framework governing the use of spy aircraft and warned of possible consequences if as more countries attempt to exert influence over other states. It is clear that further dialogue is needed among countries in light of such occurrences to ensure that the norms of international law are respected and security is ensured.
Before Chinese Spy Balloon Sighting, Classified Report Highlighted Overseas Aerial Spying The New York Occasions