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What started as an alarming curiosity—a Chinese balloon floating high above the US that Washington says was equipped with surveillance equipment—now threatens to worsen the already tense rivalry between the two superpowers.

China insists it was a civilian research balloon that drifted off course. Its government responded with anger after President Joe Biden ordered the vessel shot down Saturday once it was safely off the coast of South Carolina.

What information can a balloon like that collect? And what does this incident mean for US-China relations? Rosalind Mathieson, who oversees Bloomberg’s government and political coverage around the world, joins this episode to sort out what this was all about—and where things go from here.

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Have questions or comments for Wes and the team? Reach us at bigtake@bloomberg.net.This podcast is produced by the Big Take Podcast team: Supervising Producer: Vicki Vergolina, Senior Producer: Kathryn Fink, Producers: Mo Barrow, Rebecca Chaisson, Michael Falero and Federica Romaniello, Associate Producers: Sam Gebauer and Zaynab Siddiqui. Sound Design/Engineers: Raphael Amsili and Gilda Garcia.

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