The U.S. Department of Defense spokesperson Pat Ryder has announced that an “intelligence-gathering balloon” is currently floating above its airspace, which it believes was “most certainly launched” by China. According to Ryder, the balloon is above commercial air traffic and does not pose a threat to civil aviation. The Department of Defense has said it will allow the balloon to continue to float above the U.S., “rather than attempt to shoot it down.”
In an official statement by the Department of Defense, an official says it has communicated to China “the seriousness with which we take this issue”. “We have made clear we will do whatever is necessary to protect our people and our homeland.” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to visit China in the next few days. A photo of the balloon can be found at the source: Megan Nelson/KSVI-TV.
The U.S. government is tracking a large balloon floating in its airspace. Officials say they are “confident” it is a Chinese spy balloon. A defence official said the balloon, which is flying above regular air traffic but below outer space, did not pose a threat to those on the ground and is believed to have “limited” intelligence collection value. The government spotted the balloon earlier this week and considered shooting it down over the state of Montana but decided against it over fears of creating dangerous debris.
U.S. government officials say they have contacted China over the balloon. The incident comes in a context of increasing diplomatic engagement between the two countries, including a recent meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to visit China in the next few days.