China says a suspected spy balloon that has been flying over the United States is actually a “civilian airship” that strayed into U.S. airspace.
US says it believes the object – spotted over Billings, Montana, A high-altitude surveillance balloon flew over the sensitive site to gather information near one of three U.S. nuclear missile silos at Malmstrom Air Force Base on Wednesday.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has postponed a high-profile visit to China that was scheduled to start on Sunday.
A senior State Department official described the incident as a “clear violation of US sovereignty and international law” and said Mr Blinken’s travel was “inappropriate at this time”.
Sky News understands Mr Blinken was set to leave for China tonight before the trip was postponed.
He plans to travel “as conditions permit,” according to officials.
after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs came in Beijing Admitted that the balloons came from China, but said they were for meteorological and other scientific research.
The ministry said it regretted that the balloon flew off course.
However, a U.S. official said earlier: “It is clear that the purpose of the balloon is surveillance.”
Pentagon says Chinese spy balloon flew over U.S. airspace
What is a spy balloon?
The object is believed to have flown over the Aleutian Islands, not far from the coast Alaskaand pass Canada before entering the United States.
The balloon is still in U.S. airspace, but officials declined to say where it is now.
They acknowledged that it operates above civilian air traffic and below “outer space”, but declined to say how high it flew.
Military and defense leaders considered shooting balloons out of the sky but decided against it due to the safety risk of falling debris.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin convened a meeting of senior military and defense leaders to review the threat profile and possible responses to the balloon presented to the U.S. president joe biden Wednesday.
President Biden, speaking at a White House conference on jobs, declined to answer questions on the topic.
the United States is already involved Chinese Officers “urgent” and communicated the seriousness of the situation.
Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said: “The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon flying over the continental United States.
“The U.S. government, including NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), continues to closely track and monitor it.
“Balloons are currently flying at altitudes well above commercial air traffic and pose no military or physical threat to personnel on the ground.
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“In the past few years, instances of this ballooning activity have been observed.
“Once the balloon was discovered, the U.S. government took immediate action to prevent the collection of sensitive information.”
China and the United States have recently experienced tension, clashing over Taiwan and China’s human rights records and their military activities in the South China Sea.