The Pentagon announced on Friday that the Chinese balloon, which is the size of three buses and loaded with numerous payloads, will likely be over the United States for a few days and that it is equipped with surveillance capabilities.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Beijing, which was set to depart for China on Friday night, has been cancelled in protest by the United States due to its outrage over the development. It had been a while since a senior American ambassador had visited China.
The White House stated that President Joe Biden has been informed of China’s breach of US airspace and is actively following the evolving situation, adding that while they have opted not to destroy it at this time due to public safety, all options are still on the table.
“We will keep an eye on it. We now estimate that it will likely pass over the United States for a few days, but we will continue to weigh our options and do our best to keep you informed “Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the press secretary for the Pentagon, said reporters.
Ryder noted that the surveillance balloon had the ability to navigate and remarked, “It’s got a massive payload underneath the surveillance component, behind the real balloon aspect of it.” It is currently travelling eastward across the United States, passing through roughly the centre of the country, he said.
According to Karine Jean-Pierre, the press secretary for the White House, the US has taken note of the apology from China. However, she added, “It is unacceptable that this transpired as the presence of this balloon in our airspace is a clear breach of our sovereignty as well as international law.
It does not pose a military or physical threat to civilians on the ground, according to the Pentagon and the White House. President Biden received a briefing. He has requested options from the military. The risk to the safety and security of the people on the ground led (Defence) Secretary (Lloyd) Austin, Chairman Milley, and the commander of Northern Command to strongly advise against using kinetic action, Jean-Pierre stated.
“It is a surveillance balloon, that much is certain. I’m unable to go into details about the size, but I will say that it is large enough that, once again, when reviewing our approach, we do recognise that any potential debris field would be significant and could potentially result in civilian injuries or deaths as well as significant property damage “Added Ryder.
“In terms of our overall assessment, this is taken into consideration, but we’ll still keep an eye on it. We’ll keep weighing our choices and updating you as we can “said he.
Blinken informed Director of the CCP Central Foreign Affairs Office Wang Yi earlier that morning during a phone chat with the Chinese counterpart that due to the current presence of a high-altitude PRC surveillance balloon in US airspace, he will not be travelling to China at this time.
Blinken stated that he intended to travel to Beijing to carry out the agenda that President Xi and President Biden agreed upon in Bali in November. He took notice of the PRC’s apology but emphasised that this was a reckless behaviour that clearly violated US sovereignty and international law and defeated the goal of the trip, according to a readout of the conversation provided by the State Department.
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