Chinese spy balloon sparks UFO conspiracies

On Jan. 28, a spy balloon owned by the Chinese government was spotted in North America and made it into the United States air space. One week later, President Joe Biden ordered the U.S. Air Force to shoot down the balloon off the coast of South Carolina. Weeks later, the U.S. Air Force shot down three more unidentified objects over the U.S. and Canadian airspace.

On Feb. 14, the U.S. government announced that the Chinese government did not use the three objects to spy but that they were privately owned balloons. While the government says these objects are not a threat, conspiracy theories have been discussed on social media about the objects being unidentified flying objects or UFOs.

According to Google Trends, the term ‘UFO’ soared after the four objects were shot down. However, the conspiracy theories only grew when the U.S. and Canada suspended the search for the downed objects. UFO conspiracies have been around since the Roswell, New Mexico, UFO crash in 1947. The Roswell Army Air Field says a military balloon crashed by a ranch. Previously the airfield called it a “flying disc”.

In a press briefing, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby says the objects were shot down for safety measures and could have posed a risk to civilian aircraft.

“These were decisions based purely and simply on what was in the best interests of the American people,” Kirby said. “I don’t think the American people need to be worried about aliens with respect to these craft.”

While there are still unanswered questions about each unidentified object, some people, like freshman business management major David Villanueva, are concerned about what the spy balloon was doing and the thought of aliens.

“There could also be a possibility of it being extraterrestrial life,” Villanueva said. “To be honest, nobody knows if there is life outside of earth, but personally, I believe there is no way that we are the only form of life in this infinite universe.”