The US Has Shot Down A Giant Chinese Spy Balloon That Had Been Hovering Over The Country For Days

US security officials said the balloon had traveled from China and had been hovering over the country for a week.

The US Has Shot Down A Giant Chinese Spy Balloon That Had Been Hovering Over The Country For Days

The US has shot down a giant Chinese spy balloon that had been hovering over the country for a week.

US security officials announced on Thursday Feb. 2 that they had detected the surveillance balloon days before and was actively tracking it.

Officials said the balloon had traveled from China and arrived in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands on Saturday Jan. 28 before entering Canadian airspace.

It then reentered US airspace through Idaho on Tuesday and hovered over Montana, which is home to key military sites, on Wednesday.

On Friday, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the balloon was a “civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes,” adding that it had been blown off course and unintentionally entered US airspace.

However, the US military said on Friday that the balloon had changed course, demonstrating it had the ability to maneuver, countering China’s claims it was a civilian airship with “limited self-steering capability.”

A US official told the New York Times that China has sent spy balloons to the US before, but this one had remained over the country for longer.

White House officials said the spy balloon was not a military threat but a “violation of our sovereignty.”

The news sparked a diplomatic crisis, with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken canceling a trip beginning on Friday to Beijing, during which he was supposed to meet with Chinese president Xi Jinping.

US president Joe Biden’s top generals had initially recommended not shooting down the balloon because the debris could hurt people on the ground.

On Saturday Feb. 4, a week after the balloon first entered US airspace, a US military fighter jet shot down the balloon over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Carolina.

“They successfully took it down, and I want to compliment our aviators who did it,” Biden said, adding that he had made the order on Wednesday.

US military officials said US military vessels were attending to the debris which was spread out over 11 kilometers (seven miles) in the ocean.

China’s foreign ministry expressed its “strong dissatisfaction and protest against the US’ use of force to attack civilian unmanned aircraft,” according to the BBC.

It stressed that the balloon flying over the US had been “totally accidental,” according to the New York Times.

“In these circumstances, for the United States to insist on using armed force is clearly an excessive reaction that seriously violates international convention,” it said in a statement. “China will resolutely defend the legitimate rights and interests of the enterprise involved, and retains the right to respond further.”

US officials have said the balloon could be one of a fleet, as another Chinese spy balloon was detected to be flying over Latin America on Friday, Reuters reported.

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