Published On: Fri, Feb 17th, 2023

Satellites show Chinese spy balloon site

“You have a large pad, a large concrete pad in Hainan,” Duitsman said. “In Inner Mongolia it’s polygonal. On Hainan it’s circular. Both of them have a support structure with a small radar unit on top of it, and both of them have another tall building that may be a hangar,” he said.

The 460-foot launch pad also has what appears to be launch equipment visible in the satellite imagery.

“There are radar installations there that are camouflaged,” Duitsman said of the Hainan launch site.

The launch site was expanded sometime from  2016 to 2020, he said.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Pentagon declined to comment. 

The findings came as China’s foreign ministry accused the U.S. on Thursday of “escalating crises.”

“The Chinese unmanned civilian airship that strayed into U.S. airspace was completely a force majeure incident,” the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, said at a news conference in Beijing Thursday.

“Nevertheless, it tested the sincerity and ability of the U.S. to properly manage and control crises and stabilize China-U.S, relations,” he added.

President Joe Biden said Thursday that he would make no apologies for ordering that  the balloon be shot down and called the airship’s violation of U.S. airspace “unacceptable.”  But he also said that he wanted to maintain a dialogue with China and that the U.S. is not looking for confrontation with Beijing.

Biden said he expected to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping and told NBC News’ Peter Alexander that he did not believe Xi wanted to “fundamentally rip the relationship with the United States and with me.”

Located in China’s southernmost province, Hainan’s sandy beaches, surfing competitions and posh resorts make it a tourist destination, known as “Chinese Hawaii.”

But it’s also a crucial hub for China’s expanding military, with a large submarine base that includes a cavern tunneled into the side of a mountain and a spaceport for China’s growing satellite network.

Hainan island is headquarters for Chinese naval ships and Coast Guard vessels that operate in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, where China has constructed artificial islands with runways and deep ports.

Janis Mackey Frayer reported from Wanning; Dan De Luce reported from Washington; Ken Dilanian reported from Los Angeles; Jennifer Jett reported from Hong Kong; and Aina J. Khan reported from London.

Mosheh Gains contributed.

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