Time.news – The Pentagon has intercepted a Chinese spy balloon that flew over the northern United States in recent days. This was reported by the NBC, which cites American Defense sources.
The Chinese “spy balloon” sighted by the Pentagon in the American skies is currently still visible. This was communicated by Pentagon spokesman, General Pat Ryder, in a statement to Nbc News, which broke the news. “The US government has identified and is following a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is still over the US continent,” he explained. “Let’s continue – he added – to follow him and monitor him closely”. Once intercepted, the Pentagon explained, the US government triggered the protection plan to avoid the collection of sensitive data. The ‘spy balloon’ was intercepted Wednesday over Billings, Montana after crossing into Canada.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin quickly called a meeting with military leaders, including Joint Staff Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. At the moment it has not been decided to shoot down the balloon, due to the risk that the remains could hit someone. The Pentagon spoke to US President Joe Biden about it, to evaluate all options. There was a time in Montana where the ‘spy balloon’ could be hit and shot down by one of the following F-22 Raptors without causing collateral damage, but why it was allowed to continue was not explained. The Pentagon is certain that the balloon belongs to China and has communicated this to the Beijing government. Representatives of the US administration would not say whether the Chinese admitted it was them.
Canada is also on alert
Canadian national defense is monitoring a potential second suspected Chinese spy balloon. “A high-altitude surveillance balloon has been detected and its movements are actively monitored by the North American Aerospace Defense Command NORAD“Canadians are safe and we are taking steps to ensure the safety of the airspace, including monitoring for a potential second accident,” the national defense said in a statement.
Summoned the Chinese charge d’affaires
Il US State Department has summoned the Chinese charge d’affaires in Washington, Xu Xueyuan, “to convey a very clear and tough message” following the Pentagon’s sighting of a Chinese ‘spy balloon’ over the American skies. The Wall Street Journal writes it quoting a US official.
The episode, which marks one of the most aggressive Chinese intelligence-gathering maneuvers in recent years, comes a few days after the visit of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Beijing. Washington, always writes the Wall Street Journal, has refused to say whether it will cancel the mission of the head of American diplomacy, part of an effort to revive strained relations, marked by the countries’ geopolitical rivalry and exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The United States, with Blinken’s visit to China, aims to address persistent disputes ranging from Taiwan to technology and intends to underline the Biden administration’s interest in finding areas for potential cooperation.
The Chinese embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment from The Wall Street Journal.