A suspicious high-altitude balloon spotted over Billings, Montana, has been confirmed to be from China.
“The airship is from China,” China’s Foreign Ministry acknowledged in a statement on Friday, adding that its appearance in the U.S. was a consequence of unforeseeable circumstances beyond their control.
“It was a civilian airship used for research — mainly meteorological — purposes. Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned source. The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into U.S. airspace due to force majeure. The Chinese side will continue communicating with the U.S. side and properly handle this unexpected situation caused by force majeure.”
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken held off his planned trip to Beijing after the news broke, according to Bloomberg.
“We are aware of (China’s) statement, however, the fact is we know it’s a surveillance balloon and I’m not going to be able to be more specific than that,” Department of Defense press secretary Patrick Ryder said in a Friday briefing.
“We do know that the balloon has violated U.S. airspace and international law which is unacceptable and we’ve conveyed that to [China] at multiple levels,” Ryder added. He said the balloon had now made its way over the center of the country but did not pose a threat.
Several politicians called for the balloon to be shot down, but a senior defense official said at a news briefing that the military utilized restrain due to concerns about the damage falling debris could cause.
“We did assess that it was large enough to cause damage from the debris field if we downed it over an area,” the senior defense official said Thursday. “We had been looking at whether there was an option yesterday over sparsely populated areas in Montana. But we just couldn’t buy down the risk enough to feel comfortable recommending shooting it down.”
The White House has not issued a statement on the balloon, but it was reported that President Biden asked the military about options he could take and was advised not to shoot the balloon down, according to Yahoo News.
Before it claimed responsibility for the balloon, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said China has “no intention to violate other countries’ sovereignty and airspace,” according to CNBC.
“We are gathering and verifying the facts. We hope the relevant parties will handle the matter in a coolheaded way,” the spokeswoman said.
“China is a responsible country,” added Mao. “It has always strictly abided by international law and has no intention of violating the territory and airspace of any sovereign country.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) tweeted that Biden should have already shot the balloon down, stating that is what former President Donald Trump would have done.
Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke (R), a former Navy Seal, tweeted on Thursday, “Shoot. It. Down. The Chinese spy balloon is clear provocation. In Montana we do not bow. We shoot it down. Take the shot.” Zinke said he would pull the trigger if they would let him.
Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) said in a letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin,” Given the increased hostility and destabilization around the globe aimed at the United States and our allies, I am alarmed by the fact that this spy balloon was able to infiltrate the airspace of our country and Montana.”
“I find it very interesting that the balloon has been spotted over Montana, where one of our three nuclear weapon silos are located. I would not be surprised if it went over Washington D.C. before it went out to the Atlantic Basin,” Robert W Allen, Professor of Homeland Security at Tulane University told The Dallas Express.
“If I was the rest of the world and China, I would be watching this closely to see our reaction, and if we don’t do anything about it, it’s going to set a precedence. We look weak, we can’t let this go unabated,” said Allen, a former Military Intelligence Officer who worked on classified programs in the Middle East.
“The Chinese are in violation of international law. They violated our airspace, we’ve got to do something from a diplomatic standpoint. You can’t let this go.”
Late on Friday, the Pentagon said another Chinese spy balloon had been spotted over Latin America, although the country was not specified. No more details have been given.
I can not believe this balloon is still in the air! Our government has not only allowed the CCP to purchase, operate and police here in the United States but now aerial surveillance. This is wrong and our current hired hand in office is not nor does he care to protect “we the people” of our great nation.
Worried about falling debris, really, over nation security! Folks if you have never been on a nuke base, it’s pretty tightly controlled! Now our hired hand in the house is going to allow this balloon that is owned by China to fly where ever the wind takes it because China said they are sorry.
So the next time a criminal does what he or she does should they just claim it and apologize and be set free?
A crime is a crime, but then again the CCP did give the hired hand in office a $5 million dollar loan that required no pay back. Hmmmmm, maybe this is part of the payback on the hired hands loan?
I am sorry but Biden has and is destroying our country. He should just go home and enjoy life so someone who cares about our great nation and “we the people” can get things back in shape.
Yes, other countries are laughing at us because we have a weak and untrustworthy group of people in charge.
Lord Jesus please return soon before things escalate. Times are going to get worse people so hang on for the ride because I am afraid we are at the door step of some very bad times ahead
Everyone please stay safe and healthy during these unsettling times,
Pax Et Bonum
I think the last administration would have made a deal. You can fly over the United States if I can build a Tower in China. But let’s keep it secret.
I’m sure China Joe had to get permission from Xi Jinping to shoot the balloon down. And, when China had finished sending back pictures of our ICBM installations and other military targets, Xi signed off on letting Joe shoot the balloon down. Joe is China’s boy.