IP - China is looking into reports that its spy balloon has been flying in U.S. airspace and urged calm, adding that it has no intention of violating the territory and airspace of any sovereign country.

Iran PressAmerica: The U.S. military has been monitoring a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that has been hovering over the northern U.S. for the past few days.

On Friday, China urged calm and said that it was looking into reports of a high-altitude surveillance balloon suspected of belonging to Beijing hovering over the United States, while Canada said it was monitoring a “potential second incident.”

U.S. officials said Thursday the military was monitoring the balloon, which flew over the Aleutian Islands and through Canada before being spotted Wednesday over Billings, Montana.

“The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now,” Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told NBC News. “We continue to track and monitor it closely.”

A senior defense official said the U.S. was confident that the balloon belonged to China, which has flown stratospheric balloons over the country before but not usually for this long.

China Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said she had no information about whether a trip to China by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken planned for next week will proceed as scheduled.

“China is a responsible country that always abides by international law and has no intention of infringing on any country’s territory and airspace,” Mao said at a daily briefing.

The balloon revelation comes days before Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to visit China, the highest-ranking Biden administration official to do so. Mao said she had no information on whether his visit would be affected.

In a brief statement late Thursday, the Canadian Department of National Defence said a high-altitude surveillance balloon had been detected and was being “actively tracked” by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a U.S.-Canadian military organization. It did not provide details about the balloon or say whether it was the same balloon detected in the U.S.

The senior defense official said Thursday the balloon was still over the U.S. but declined to say where. It has not been shot out of the sky so far, U.S. officials said, because falling debris could pose a safety risk to people on the ground.

They said the balloon did not pose a threat to civil aviation and was of limited use in collecting intelligence, though Montana is home to one of America’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said the balloon is “currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground.”

President Biden was briefed and asked the military to present options, according to a senior administration official, who was also not authorized to publicly discuss sensitive information.


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