China Says ‘Oops’ on Alleged Spy Balloon Entering US Airspace
According to China's Foreign Ministry, the balloon is intended for meteorological research, downplaying the incident.
The “Alleged Spy Balloon Entering US Airspace,” which was discovered hovering over Montana, was allegedly mistakenly flying into US airspace and was actually intended for meteorological study.
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The airship originates in China. It is a civilian blimp used for study, primarily meteorological research, according to a statement from China’s Foreign Ministry on Friday.
The ministry also referred to “force majeure,” effectively attributing the error to unavoidable circumstances. The blimp “deviated far from its planned route, affected by the Westerlies (prevailing winds) and with limited self-steering capability,” it added. “The Chinese side regrets the airship’s unintentional incursion into Alleged Spy Balloon Entering US Airspace owing to force majeure,” the statement reads.
The Pentagon, on the other hand, has identified the item as a “intelligence-gathering balloon” that has been flying at a great height. After Billings, Montana, residents noticed the object on Thursday, the US Defense Department informed the public about it.
Pentagon press secretary Pat Ryder stated simply, “Once the balloon was spotted, the US government acted swiftly to protect against the acquisition of critical information.
The balloon is being tracked, according to defence officials, and China has already been informed that the US may shoot it down. However, the government has not yet taken action due to worries that the balloon’s debris “could put human neighbourhoods at risk.”
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“First, our best assessment at the moment is that whatever the surveillance payload on this balloon does not create significant value addition over and above what the PRC [People’s Republic of China] is likely able to collect through things like satellites in Low Earth Orbit,” the senior defence official continued.
China’s Foreign Ministry first stated on Friday that it was still “gathering and confirming the facts” regarding the balloon. (Opens in a separate window) “China is a responsible country, and we always operate in compliance with international law,” the agency continued. No sovereign country’s airspace or territory will be violated by us.