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China's Fleet of Surveillance Helium Balloons

China was in the headlines this week as one of its stratospheric helium balloons hovered over the US and was eventually shut-down. This highlights the increasing use of helium for China's "lighter than air" vehicle programme and is a key area of demand growth for helium globally. China is reportedly putting to use these balloons around the world as the US stated it observed a second balloon in Latin America and Chinese balloons have been spotted in Asia, South Asia and Europe. There were also reports that in February 2022, groups of high-altitude balloons were spotted over Northern Taiwan. These balloons are said to be different from weather balloons in altitude, size and materials.

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