The Chinese balloon flying high over the US and suspected to be a spy device is a research balloon gone astray
The United States and Canada have been tracking the trajectory of a Chinese balloon flying at high altitude for several days over sensitive military sites on Friday. Initially, Beijing said it was “verifying” this information, but today it recognised it was a Chinese research craft.
The United States is monitoring the trajectory of a Chinese spy balloon, discovered on Thursday and flying over American territory. The Pentagon once considered shooting it down, but the risks posed by the debris to those on the ground deterred authorities. “We have no doubt that the balloon came from China,” said a senior US defence official.
“We take steps to protect ourselves against the collection of sensitive information,” he said.
The object flew over the Aleutian Islands in Alaska and Canada before appearing over the town of Billings in Montana on Wednesday, according to US officials quoted by the BBC. Fighter jets approached the craft over Montana, US Defense said.
Washington raised the case with the Chinese authorities. Initially, Beijing said it is verifying American information and called this Friday not to “escalate things“. “A verification is in progress,” said a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “As a responsible country, China has always strictly observed international law and has no intention of violating the territory and airspace of a sovereign state.”
Today, Beijing expressed regret over a Chinese balloon flying over the U.S., saying it was for civilian weather research and had gone off course. China sought to defuse tensions with the U.S. over spying claims ahead of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Beijing. But Blinken nevertheless cancelled his trip to China over the issue, after the Pentagon described the balloon as an “intelligence-gathering balloon”.