Second Chinese spy balloon spotted over Latin America: Pentagon
The United States (US) government reportedly spotted a second Chinese spy balloon in the skies over Latin America, CNN reported citing the Pentagon. However, the report does not specify which country the balloon is hovering over and whether it is heading toward the US. Earlier, a similar Chinese spy balloon was reportedly tracked by the US on Thursday.
Why does this story matter?
- The development came a day after US officials admitted it was tracking a Chinese spy balloon across the country.
- China and the US always try to outdo one another in their struggle for global supremacy.
- In the midst of this, tensions are building between the two nations over Taiwan, which rejects China's territorial claims.
- Notably, the US is arming the autonomous island against China.
Pentagon says spy balloon is flying above 60,000 feet
"We are seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America. We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon," Pentagon Press Secretary Brig Gen Patrick Ryder said in a statement. He said the balloon was hovering at 60,000 ft above the US and moving east on Friday. Ryder also denied the Chinese government's claims that it was used for "civilian research".
No security threat; fighter jets scrambled as protocol: Officials
The Pentagon said the spy balloon does not now pose a security threat and that it recommended the White House not to shoot it down. Meanwhile, reports said that the F-22 fighter jets were scrambled over Montana as protocol after images captured by the residents show the suspicious balloon. It was caught on camera near Malmstrom Air Force Base's nuclear missile silo field.
US Secretary of State postponed China visit
According to Fox News, the incident has forced US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone his trip to China this weekend. The decision was made when the US government established that the balloon was not used for weather reasons, as China stated. "This was intentional," a senior US official said, per Fox News. "The balloon initially took off from mainland China," he added.
Chinese Foreign Ministry's claims
"The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace due to force majeure," the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in a statement. He said the balloon was a "civilian airship" being used for weather monitoring and deviated from its planned path. "Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course," he claimed.
Watch: Visuals of alleged spy balloon over Montana
MYSTERIOUS BALOON IN THE SKY!— Jamaica Live (@JamaicaLivenews) February 3, 2023
A man in Montana filmed a mysterious balloon floating in the sky. The US government claims it is a China spy balloon but people on social media are asking how could a China spy balloon got through all the US military security without being shot down pic.twitter.com/KvUbQlcKgz