In recent weeks, the People’s Republic of China has been the focus of a lot of attention due to the presence of a Chinese balloon spotted over the northern United States. Was it a civilian weather device, as China claims, or a spy balloon, as some American lawmakers and media outlets have suggested? To get to the bottom of this story, let’s take a look at the facts.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has maintained that the balloon was a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes. They have also said that the balloon was affected by the Westerlies and had limited self-steering capability, which caused it to deviate far from its planned course.

The National Weather Service posted photos of the balloon flying over Kansas City, Missouri, which has further increased the suspicion that it was a Chinese spy balloon. However, China has continued to claim that the balloon was never intended to enter U.S. airspace and that the situation was caused by force majeure.

A senior U.S. Defense official told Fox News that the balloon was launched from mainland China, and the Pentagon does not believe that this was a weather balloon that flew off course. The official stated that there was no “force majeure” that caused the Chinese surveillance balloon to enter U.S. airspace, as China’s foreign ministry spokesperson had claimed.

China has accused American lawmakers and media outlets of “hyp[ing] up” the balloon inaccurately and is firmly opposed to the way the story has been portrayed.

So, what’s the truth? Was the balloon a civilian weather device or a Chinese spy balloon? Only time will tell. In the meantime, it’s important to be aware of the facts and to not jump to conclusions.