The Chinese balloon that crossed the continental US last week had multiple antennas for intelligence gathering and was part of a broader surveillance fleet, a senior US state department official said on Thursday.
The US said the Chinese have used these surveillance balloons over more than 40 countries and five continents. It added that Washington will continue to brief allies on the scope of the programme, while senior state department and Pentagon officials will brief Congress on Thursday.
“High-resolution imagery from U-2 fly-bys revealed that the high-altitude balloon was capable of conducting signals intelligence collection operations,” the official said, referring to US efforts to examine the balloon using spy planes while it was still airborne. “It had multiple antennas to include an array likely capable of collecting and geolocating communications,” the official added.
The Biden administration is looking into blacklisting Chinese entities linked to the country’s military that supported the balloon’s crossing into the US, as well as other actions to tackle Beijing’s surveillance programme.
Five more stories in the news
1. Peltz calls off Disney proxy fight Nelson Peltz has ended one of the biggest corporate battles in recent years a day after Walt Disney unveiled a restructuring plan involving the loss of 7,000 jobs. The end of the activist investor’s push removes a distraction for chief executive Bob Iger, who is seeking to steer the company’s lossmaking streaming services towards profitability.
2. Chinese revival for offshore listings Hesai Technology, a Shanghai-based maker of sensors for cars, has become the largest Chinese group to go public in the US since 2021, in a development that exchange executives hope will ease almost two years of tensions during which such listings ground to a halt. The company raised $190mn from investors in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq stock exchange that valued it at about $2.4bn.
3. Turkey-Syria death toll tops that of devastating 1999 quake Almost 20,000 people have died as a result of this week’s earthquakes in southeastern Turkey and neighbouring Syria, according to the latest figures released on Thursday by authorities in the affected area. The toll exceeds that of the devastating İzmit quake in 1999, underlining the scale of the unfolding disaster as rescue workers continued to pull bodies from the rubble.
4. Toshiba receives $15bn buyout proposal A consortium led by private equity firm Japan Industrial Partners has proposed buying Toshiba for $15bn in what would be Japan’s largest buyout. After Toshiba’s plan to split into three was rejected by shareholders last spring, a private sale was launched, attracting interest from some of the world’s leading private equity groups like Bain Capital and CVC.
5. MSCI to revise Adani Group weightings Global index provider MSCI is set to change its weightings for Adani Group stocks after reviewing how many shares can be freely traded, in a further setback for the Indian conglomerate reeling from fraud allegations.
How well did you keep up with the news this week? Take our quiz.
The day ahead
China inflation figures January consumer price index and producer price index inflation rate data will be released today.
US consumer sentiment figures The University of Michigan will release its survey on consumer sentiment today.
UK ambulance worker strikes Workers from the Unite and Unison unions are set to strike in London, the South West, North West, North East, Yorkshire and the West Midlands.
Earnings Results are expected from Aker BP, Eneos, Honda Motor and Saab.
Join us on February 23 at 1pm GMT for a subscriber-only webinar, Putin’s war on Ukraine: when and how will it end? with the FT’s Ben Hall, Chris Miller and guests. Register for your free ticket at ft.com/ukraine-event.
What else we’re reading
Hong Kong reopens with post-Covid charm offensive Facing a challenge in luring workers back and resetting a woeful economic climate, Hong Kong has offered incentives including funds for international businesses to set up operations in the territory, new visas for graduates from top global universities and 500,000 free airline tickets to encourage tourism.
“This is probably the world’s biggest welcome ever,” John Lee, the city’s current leader and former top police officer.
‘Sam? Are you there?!’ The bizarre and brutal final hours of FTX Sam Bankman-Fried and his band of millennial millionaires lost $40bn following the collapse of the FTX crypto empire. FT reporter Joshua Oliver has pieced together the final, brutal hours (complete with screenshots) in a read for the weekend magazine.
‘Street fighter’ takes the helm at rudderless Carlyle After years of lacklustre performance and management unrest, Carlyle this week named the former Goldman Sachs executive Harvey Schwartz as its new chief executive. The FT spoke to former Goldman colleagues, including Lloyd Blankfein, for this profile.
The urban ideal borrows from the past When done well, the 21st century enhances cities. WiFi has turned cafés, parks, even beaches into workspaces. Tinder and LinkedIn introduce you to people, and Google Maps helps you find them. But the best physical bits of today’s best cities were built by our ancestors. Modernity often just makes cities worse, writes Simon Kuper.
How an MBA changed America’s top doctor Dr Vivek Murthy, the US surgeon general, had no plans to pursue an MBA. But he signed up when the Yale School of Medicine, where he was studying, offered a joint degree programme with its management school in 2001. “I felt like I was looking at the world with new glasses on and seeing opportunity much more clearly all around me,” he said.
Take a break from the news
Up Helly Aa, Shetland’s wild, weird, annual Viking-inspired fire festival is back with blazing torches, a burning longboat and — for the first time — women.