Suspected Chinese spy balloon urges US secretary of state to cancel trip to Beijing
US federal officials said this week that a Chinese surveillance balloon had been spotted over the United States and Canada, but China insisted on Friday that it was a “civilian airship “. The Biden administration is clearly not buying this. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday his department is “confident” the high-altitude craft is being used for surveillance and canceled its planned trip to Beijing this weekend.
“It’s a violation of international law,” Blinken added at a later press conference. “It’s irresponsible.”
A Pentagon spokesperson said the military had been tracking the ball for several days and President Joe Biden was first briefed on Tuesday. The administration was advised not to shoot him down for security reasons on the ground.
In an update Friday, Pentagon press secretary Brig. General Pat Ryder told reporters that the balloon continues to move east over the central United States and “presents no military or physical threat to those on the ground.” Ryder has also repeatedly stated that the craft has the ability to maneuver and doesn’t just appear to have gone off the rails.
“Clearly…this violated US airspace. And again, we communicated that fact” to the Chinese government, Ryder said.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson told reporters that the airship is primarily used for weather research, calling the entry into US airspace unintentional and regrettable.
Meanwhile, pilots continue to report sightings of the balloon. It’s also possible to see it from the ground with a decent zoom. Unsurprisingly, images of the intruder began to appear on social media. Officials say they will continue to monitor his whereabouts for the time being.
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