The Pentagon said on Feb. 3 that a Chinese spy balloon had moved eastward and was over the central United States, and that the United States rejected China’s claims that it was not being used for surveillance.
The Chinese regime claimed that the balloon was a weather research “airship” that had blown off course.
“We are aware of the PRC statement. The fact is we know it is a surveillance balloon,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said. “We know the balloon has violated U.S. airspace and international law, which is unacceptable. we have conveyed this directly to the PRC at multiple levels.”
Ryder refused to provide details on exactly where the balloon was or whether there was any new consideration of shooting it down.
The military had ruled that option out, officials had said, due to potential risks to people on the ground.
Ryder said it was at an altitude of about 60,000 feet, was maneuverable, and had changed course.
He said it currently was posing no threat and there was only one balloon being tracked.
Earlier, the U.S. announced that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had postponed a planned high-stakes weekend diplomatic trip to China as the Biden administration weighed a broader response to the discovery of a high-altitude Chinese balloon flying over sensitive sites in the western United States.
Discovery of the balloon was announced by Pentagon officials who said one of the places it was spotted was over the state of Montana, which is home to one of America’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base.