Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

China confirms balloon is theirs, as spokesperson claims it is civilian research airship

Chinese Foreign Ministry claims balloon was not intended to enter US airspace

The People’s Republic of China confirmed Friday that the balloon craft floating over the northern United States is Chinese.

China claimed that the airship is a civilian research craft that was blown far off course by prevailing winds, and that it regrets the incident.

“The airship is from China. It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson confirmed Friday. “Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course.”

Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said during a briefing on Thursday afternoon that the U.S. government has detected a high-altitude surveillance balloon over the continental U.S.

The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now,” Ryder said Thursday. “The U.S. government to include Norad, continues to track and monitor it closely. The balloon is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground.

He continued, “Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years. Once the balloon was detected, the U.S. government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information.”The statement continued, “The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace due to force majeure. The Chinese side will continue communicating with the US side and properly handle this unexpected situation caused by force majeure.”

A well-placed senior U.S. official told Fox News that the government has been tracking the balloon for “some time” and said it entered U.S. airspace a “couple of days ago.”
By Timothy H.J. Nerozzi | Fox News

 


Chinese balloon flying over US ‘intentional,’ not weather craft that blew off course, US official says

Senior US official says it was ‘bold’ of Chinese government to fly spy balloon over US territory

U.S. officials on Friday disputed claims from the People’s Republic of China that a Chinese surveillance balloon detected over the northern United States was a “civilian airship” that had blown off course.

A senior U.S. Defense official told Fox News that the balloon was launched from mainland China. The Pentagon does not believe that this was a weather balloon that flew off course. There was no “force majeure” that caused the Chinese surveillance balloon to enter U.S. airspace, as China’s foreign ministry spokesperson had claimed.

The balloon is currently flying at 60,000 feet, which is higher than most U.S. warplanes or aircraft can fly. Multiple Republican lawmakers and former President Trump – who declared his candidacy for president in 2024 in November – have called on President Biden to shoot it down.

Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen Pat Ryder announced Thursday that the U.S. government had detected the Chinese surveillance balloon flying over Montana. He said that this kind of balloon activity had been observed before and that once it was identified, the government “acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information.”

Chinese officials confirmed that the balloon belonged to China on Friday.

“The airship is from China. It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. “Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course.”

The spokesperson continued, “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.”

However, U.S. officials reject China’s characterization of the incident.

Senior State Department officials said Friday it was a “statement of fact” that the Chinese balloon currently over the United States “is a clear and unacceptable violation of U.S. sovereignty.”

The Defense official fold Fox News Digital it was a “bold” decision by the Chinese government to fly a surveillance aircraft in U.S. airspace.

The U.S. does not fly spy planes over mainland China, the senior Defense official emphasized.

President Biden was briefed on the situation and has weighed military options to deal with the balloon, but for now has decided against shooting the balloon down.

“To all those who say ‘just shoot it down. There’s a lot of empty space in Montana,’ there are also a lot of schools. It is not unpopulated,” another senior official said.

“What happens when this balloon, which is carrying heavy equipment and is the size of at least two school buses, lands on someone’s home or on a kindergarten?”

The official added, “If we shoot it down, the balloon and the equipment on board will plunge to earth at meteoric speed.”

The possibility of American civilian casualties and collateral damage is weighing heavily in Biden’s mind. However, the president may use military options to bring down the spy balloon if it becomes safe to do so.


Chinese spy balloon: Blinken calls out China for ‘irresponsible act’ in phone call with CCP official

Blinken postponed a scheduled trip to China

By Adam Sabes | Fox News

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China committed an “irresponsible act” by deploying a surveillance balloon over the northern United States.

Blinken said that he made clear China is acting irresponsibly during a phone call with Director of the CCP Central Foreign Affairs Office Wang Yi on Friday.

“I made clear that the presence of this surveillance balloon in U.S. airspace is a clear violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law, that it’s an irresponsible act and that the PRC decision to take this action on the eve of my planned visit is detrimental to the substantive discussions that we were prepared to have,” Blinken said.”I told director Wang that the United States remains committed to diplomatic engagement with China and that I plan to visit Beijing when conditions allow. In the meantime, the United States will continue to maintain open lines of communication with China, including to address this ongoing incident,” Blinken added.

Blinken postponed a scheduled trip to China after the surveillance balloon was spotted, as he was scheduled to depart on Friday.

During a Thursday evening briefing, a senior defense official said that the U.S. government is “confident” the surveillance balloon belongs to the People’s Republic of China.

The balloon was spotted over Kansas City, Missouri on Friday and Defense Department spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said that the balloon is likely to hover over U.S. airspace for “a few days.”

The balloon continues to move eastward and is currently over the center of the continental United States. Again, we currently assess that the balloon does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground at this time,” Ryder said.

Ryder said during an earlier briefing that the U.S. government doesn’t believe the balloon poses a military and physical threat threat.

While maintaining that the balloon doesn’t present a military threat to the U.S., the senior official said that it likely isn’t gathering any information of significant value to the People’s Republic of China.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson claimed on Friday that the “civillian airship” is being used for meteorological purposes and deviated from its planned course.

“The airship is from China. It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes,” the spokesperson said. “Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course.”

A senior U.S. defense official told Fox News that the balloon took off from mainland China. The Pentagon doesn’t believe that this is a weather balloon that flew off course.

“This was intentional,” the senior U.S. official said.

Fox News’ Chris Pandolfo and Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.


Chinese spy balloon: Republican demands for Biden to counter CCP ‘provocation’ escalate

American officials call Chinese spy balloon ‘clear and unacceptable violation of US sovereignty’

As the Biden administration on Friday dealt with an incursion of a Chinese surveillance balloon into the continental U.S., calls for more action escalated from Republicans, demanding briefings and for the balloon to be shot out of the sky.

Officials confirmed on Thursday they detected the balloon, and that the government “acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information.”

On Friday, Chinese officials confirmed that the balloon was Chinese, but said it was a civilian airship that drifted off course. U.S. officials have rejected that characterization, and senior State Department officials called the balloon “a clear and unacceptable violation of U.S. sovereignty.”Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a planned trip to Beijing due to the balloon.

“The presence of this balloon in our airspace is a clear violation of our sovereignty, as well as international law,” an official said. “We have concluded that the conditions are not right at this moment for Secretary Blinken to travel to China.”

But with the balloon hovering at approximately 60,000 feet over the continental U.S. and moving through Montana and toward Kansas, Republicans have been accusing the Biden administration of inaction — and have been urging the administration to shoot it down, as well as calling for briefings on the matter in Washington D.C.

“Shoot. It. Down,” Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., tweeted Thursday. “The Chinese spy balloon is clear provocation. In Montana we do not bow. We shoot it down. Take the shot.”

Rep. Matt Rosendale, also of Montana, expressed his concern in a letter that the balloon flew over the Malmstrom Air Force Base, and called on the administration to “do more to prevent the Chinese Communist Party from targeting Americans”

“I am writing to request a security briefing on this situation as soon as possible to hear why the balloon penetrated so far into our country before it was identified, what the true purpose of it was, and how we can prevent this invasion from taking place in the future,” Rosendale wrote to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. “I look forward to hearing from the Department of Defense and I urge the Biden Administration to do everything in its power to ensure that the American people are safe and secure.”

 

 

 

 

updated 2/3/2023 below with videos