Defence sources reported on Thursday that the US is following a rumoured Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon above the continental United States, a development that could further strain already strained relations between the US and China.
According to Brig, the US government has tracked the balloon for several days as it travelled over the northern United States. Gen. Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for the Pentagon. He added that the balloon was “travelling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and did not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground.”
Speaking anonymously, a senior US defence official revealed that President Joe Biden had been persuaded not to shoot it down because of concerns that the debris could endanger those on the ground.
The senior defence official declared, ” “We are confident that this high-altitude surveillance balloon belongs to the [People’sPeople’s Republic of China], “Instances of this activity have been observed over the past several years, including before this administration.”
The official stated that despite the balloon’sballoon’s current flight route taking it over “several sensitive sites,” it does not pose a severe risk to intelligence gathering. From the standpoint of intelligence gathering, the balloon is deemed to have “minimal incremental value,” the official continued.
The official stated that despite this, the US is “taking steps to protect against foreign intelligence collection of sensitive information. We are also tracking its abilities to gain insights and continue to monitor the balloon as it was over the continental United States.”
A spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed on Friday that the balloon unintentionally entered US airspace.
The blimp accidentally entered US airspace as a result of force majeure, which the Chinese side regrets, the spokeswoman stated in a statement. It is a non-commercial airship used for research, primarily meteorological research. Because of the Westerlies and its limited capacity to direct itself, the airship strayed far from its intended path.
According to another defence official, the US believes Chinese spy satellites in low Earth orbit can provide comparable or better intelligence, which limits the usefulness of whatever information Beijing may obtain from the three-bus-sized high-altitude balloon.
“It does not create significant value added over and above what the PRC is likely able to collect through satellites in low Earth orbit,” the senior defence official said.
According to the person, the US government has communicated with the Chinese government through the Chinese embassy in Washington and the US diplomatic mission in China.