China says it is preparing to shoot down an unidentified flying object near the Yellow Sea

China says it is preparing to shoot down an unidentified flying object near the Yellow Sea

File photo of an automated container terminal along the shore of Rizhao Port in Rizhao, Shandong … [+] province, China, on Oct 9, 2022. (CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Future Publishing via Getty Images

Authorities in China are preparing to shoot down an unidentified flying object currently over Shandong Province, according to Chinese state media. And while it’s not immediately clear who the flying object might belong to, every country is now looking to the skies with more skepticism, ever since the U.S. military shot down a Chinese spy balloon a little over a week ago.

“Local maritime authorities in East China’s Shandong Province announced on Sunday that they had spotted an unidentified flying object in waters near the coastal city of Rizhao in the province and were preparing to shoot it down, reminding fishermen to be safe via messages,” China’s state-controlled Global Times said in a tweet Sunday morning.

The city of Rizhao in Shandong Province is a port city on the Yellow Sea roughly halfway in between Beijing to the northwest and Shanghai to the southeast. Directly to the east is South Korea.

The U.S. shot down a Chinese spy balloon on Feb. 4after a week of the balloon crossing the country. That balloon, which was up to 200 feet tall, was first spotted near Alaska before it traveled through Canada and down into Montana. It was spotted by civilians near Billings before it spent the rest of the week crossing over the continental U.S., floating across North and South Carolina before the U.S. military shot it down when it finally drifted over the Atlantic Ocean.

That balloon’s journey set off a huge debate within the U.S. about why it wasn’t shot down earlier, with Republicans arguing President Donald Trump never would’ve allowed such a thing to happen. Except that it did, many timesincluding over sensitive military facilities in Virginia and California.

An annotated map showing where the province of Shandong is in China.

Google Maps

But our unidentified flying object adventures have continued, with a new object spotted and shot down in the far north of Alaska on Friday. Then, on Saturday, the joint fighter jet patrols of NORAD, a partnership between the U.S. and Canada, identified yet another floating object in Canada’s Yukon Territory. That object was ordered shot down by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Some have speculated that perhaps at least some of these flying objects could be alien spacecraft from another planet, a joke that would be tragic if it had the slightest possibility of being true. But it seems much more likely that all of these flying object shoot downs are just the norm during the New Cold War between countries like the UK, Canada and the US on one side, with countries like China, Russia and Iran on the other.

And that first shoot down last weekend has probably made both sides simply more sensitive to the possibility that relatively low-tech aircraft might be penetrating the borders of sovereign countries without their knowledge.

“The incursions in the past week have changed how analysts receive and interpret information from radars and sensors, a U.S. official said Saturday, partly addressing a key question of why so many objects have recently surfaced,” the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

The unnamed defense official told the Post “we basically opened the filters.”

“That change does not yet fully answer what is going on, the official cautioned, and whether stepping back to look at more data is yielding more hits — or if these latest incursions are part of a more deliberate action by an unknown country or adversary,” the newspaper continued.

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