US won’t shoot down Chinese ‘Spy’ Balloon, here’s why
4 February, 2023 | Vaishali Sharma
The Pentagon announced on Friday that the Chinese "surveillance balloon" with a substantial number of payloads will continue to float over the United States for the upcoming several days.
The Pentagon announced on Friday that the Chinese “surveillance balloon” with a substantial number of payloads will continue to float over the United States for the upcoming several days. According to Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the manoeuvrable Chinese balloon was at an altitude of roughly 60,000 feet as of Friday midday and was floating above the middle of the continental United States in an easterly trajectory. He also stated that the Aerospace Defence is ‘closely’ monitoring the suspected spy balloon.
“The balloon continues to move eastward and is over the center of the continental US. Again, we currently assess that the balloon does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground at this time, and we will continue to monitor and review options,” he said.
“It’s got a large payload underneath the surveillance component, underneath the actual balloon piece of it,” the official added, without elaborating on the payload.
Another reason not to shoot down at this time, he claimed, was that the resultant debris from a strike could be dangerous to civilians on the ground and cause property damage.
The sighting of a Chinese balloon in the skies of the continental United States heightened diplomatic tensions, prompting US State Secretary Antony Blinken to abandon his trip to Beijing. This would have been the first visit to China by a senior American ambassador in several years.
Beijing has accepted that the balloon belongs to China and claimed that the airship was being mainly used for meteorological research. The Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement that the airship “deviated far from its planned course” because of the “Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability”. The Chinese side “regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace,” it added.
Responding to a query on China’s statement over the suspected balloon, Ryder said, “We are very aware of the PRC statement, but the fact is we know it is a surveillance balloon. We know that the balloon has violated US airspace and international law — which is unacceptable. And we’ve conveyed this directly to the PRC on multiple levels.”
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he is postponing his trip to China this weekend.
Read: Amid balloon row, Blinken confirms postponement of planned China visit