The suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew over the United States before being shot down is believed to be part of an extensive spying operation. Several intelligence sources told CNN that China has a fleet of surveillance balloons and launches them out of a base in the province of Hainan.
The sources claim that over the past several years, China has launched at least two dozen balloons and flown surveillance missions over five continents. About half a dozen of the balloons flew over U.S. airspace.
The United States has held multiple briefings with diplomats and intelligence officials of at least 40 other countries about the recent incursion of the spy balloon into U.S. airspace.
"We want to make sure that we are sharing as much as we can with countries around the world who may also be susceptible to these types of operations," the senior administration official told Reuters.
The Chinese spy balloon was spotted over Minnesota last week after flying in from Canada. The military tracked the balloon as it floated over the country before shooting it down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the Carolinas.
Recovery efforts are underway to locate all of the debris so it can be studied at the FBI's crime lab in Quantico, Virginia.
China has denied the balloon was being used for surveillance purposes and claimed it was a weather balloon. China blasted the U.S. for shooting down the balloon and said, "the airship does not belong to the U.S. It belongs to China."
After the 200-foot tall balloon was shot down by a fighter jet, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin requested a secure phone call with Chinese officials but was rebuffed.