Expert weighs in on mystery objects and the relationship with China

Feb 14, 2023, 9:30 PM
A high altitude balloon floats over Billings, Mont., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. The huge, high-alt...
A high altitude balloon floats over Billings, Mont., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. The huge, high-altitude Chinese balloon sailed across the U.S. on Friday, drawing severe Pentagon accusations of spying and sending excited or alarmed Americans outside with binoculars. Secretary of State Antony Blinken abruptly canceled a high-stakes Beijing trip aimed at easing U..S.-China tensions. A Utah expert joined Dave and Dujanovic on Thursday to discuss the relationship with China and what were the mystery objects shot down over the weekend. (Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP)
(Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — There has been a lot of discussion in recent days about the mystery objects that were shot down over the weekend over air space in Canada and the United States.

Ryan Vogel, director of the Center for National Security at Utah Valley University, joined Dave and Dujanovic on Tuesday with hosts Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to discuss the latest on the mystery objects. They also discuss the current relationship between the United States and China.

Dujanovic said “I guess it’s not a surprise that China would come out and say the U.S. has been doing it too. But do we really have proof that we have been (spying)? I don’t know.”

“So, I think that’s what China is going to have to produce,” Vogel said. “And they won’t be able to.”

Vogel says China has looked a little bit irrational over the past few weeks since the spy balloon was shot down over the coast of South Carolina. 

“So, they’re trying to project power domestically,” he said. “Unfortunately, that’s not translating abroad. It’s not translating in the international space.”

Vogel further states in the case of the spy balloon, China is trying to sure up support at home for making claims that the U.S. has spied on them.

Vogel stresses that the U.S. does not use balloons over international airspace. However, he says we do use them over territorial claims in the South China Sea.

“We view those as illegal claims,” Vogel said. “And I think the rest of the world is on our side on that.”

How common is the use of balloons or mystery objects?

Noriega said, “I’m shocked at how common balloon usage is in the word. I had no idea. …. But what does the U.S. Balloon Brigade look like?”

“I think the intelligence experts have come out, both former and current, have said that ‘Yeah, we use these things from time to time.’ They’re part of the intelligence arsenal.”

However, Vogel says that balloons are not a major part of the U.S. intelligence collection process.

Noriega said, “I’m having a hard time getting a read on how tense the relationship is right now between the U.S. and China.”

“It is not in a good place right now,” Vogel said. “And I think that is unfortunate for both sides of the equation here. I think there was some real interest in China in repairing the relationship with the United States.”

He also stated that the United States wanted to have a better relationship with China.

“We are economically interdependent on each other,” Vogel said. “We have a lot of shared interests.”

Objects shot down over the weekend

Dujanovic asked if he had a better read on the mystery objects that were shot out of the sky over the weekend?

Vogel says the objects were different in shape and were flying at different heights. 

“So, I don’t think we know exactly what we’re looking at yet,” he said. 


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

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Expert weighs in on mystery objects and the relationship with China