US Secretary of State Antony Blinken previously canceled a trip to Beijing, saying the presence of the “surveillance” balloon was irresponsible. The US then reported that a second Chinese balloon was flying over Latin America. China expressed regret that the balloon flew over the United States and said a weather blimp was blown away by mistake.
It is expected to reach the US East Coast near Carolina this weekend. The US has decided not to shoot down high-altitude airships due to the risk of falling debris. The incident came amid fraying tensions between the United States and China.
According to US officials, the airship floated over Alaska and Canada before appearing over the US state of Montana, which is home to a number of sensitive nuclear missile sites. The incident angered top US officials, with Mr. Blinken saying he had told Beijing the balloon’s presence was “a clear violation of US sovereignty and international law” and “an irresponsible act”. He called it “unacceptable” and “even more irresponsible coming on the eve of a long-planned visit”.America’s top diplomat had been set to visit Beijing from 5 to 6 February to hold talks on a wide range of issues, including security, Taiwan, and Covid-19. It would have been the first high-level US-China meeting there in years.
The Pentagon says, “traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic.” Still, its presence sparked outrage. . On Friday, China finally acknowledged the balloon as Chinese property, saying it was a civilian airship used for meteorological research and had deviated from its route due to bad weather.