A Chinese Spy Balloon Over the United States: What We Know So Far
It’s a story that has been making headlines over the last few days: a Chinese spy balloon is flying over the United States. It’s a bold move by Beijing, and one that has raised serious questions about the safety of American citizens. But what do we know so far?
The balloon, which is traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic, was detected by the Pentagon and is being tracked by U.S. military aircraft. It is currently traveling over the continental United States and does not pose any physical or military threat. The U.S. government has taken “custody” of the balloon and is monitoring it closely.
At the same time, Canadian authorities have reported a “potential second incident,” though details are still unclear. The news of the balloon first broke as CIA Director William Burns was speaking at an event at Washington’s Georgetown University, where he called China the “biggest geopolitical challenge” facing the United States.
U.S. military leaders considered shooting down the balloon over Montana on Wednesday, but eventually advised President Joe Biden against it due to the safety risk from debris. The Billings, Montana, airport issued a ground stop as the military mobilized assets including F-22 fighter jets in case Biden ordered that the balloon be shot down.
The U.S. has raised the matter with their Chinese counterparts through diplomatic channels, and China has responded by saying that it is “verifying” the situation and that it has no intention of violating the land territory and airspace of any sovereign country.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has called the spy balloon “alarming but not surprising,” while Republican Senator Tom Cotton has called for Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel his upcoming trip to China. Meanwhile, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has requested a “Gang of Eight” briefing.
It’s clear that the discovery of the spy balloon has serious implications for the U.S.-China relationship, and it remains to be seen how the situation will develop. In the meantime, the U.S. government is monitoring the situation closely and is taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of its citizens.