Beijing has not issued an outright denial, saying it is ‘learning about the verification of the matter and had ‘no intention’ of violating US air space US officials say they do not believe the balloon is a serious intelligence threat and some analysts have speculated that it may not be used for spying

Posted BY: RM | NwoReport

The Pentagon said that it was tracking a Chinese spy balloon that has been hovering over the United States for several days.

At US President Joe Biden’s request, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and top military officials considered shooting the balloon down but decided doing so would endanger too many people on the ground, a senior US defense official told reporters on Thursday.

One of the places the balloon was spotted was Montana, which is home to one of the nation’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

Separately, Canada’s defense ministry said a “high-altitude surveillance balloon” was detected and that it was monitoring a “potential second incident”, without giving further details, adding that it was in frequent contact with the United States.

The Canadian statement did not reference China.

American officials have declined to say why the US believed the balloon belonged to China, saying only that the US had high confidence in the assessment. The US has engaged Chinese officials through multiple channels and communicated the seriousness of the matter.

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Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said Beijing was “verifying” the situation.

“I would like to emphasize that until the facts are clarified, speculation and hype will not be helpful to the proper resolution of the issue,” she told a regular daily briefing in Beijing on Friday.

Spy balloons have flown over the United States several times in recent years, but this balloon appeared to be lingering longer than in previous instances, one of the US officials said.

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China has often complained about US surveillance by ships and spy planes near its own territory, leading to occasional confrontations over the years.

“Clearly, the intent of this balloon is for surveillance, and the current flight path does carry it over a number of sensitive sites,” said a US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

But the Pentagon did not believe it constitutes a particularly dangerous intelligence threat.

“We assess that this balloon has limited additive value from an intelligence collection perspective,” the official said.

US officials became aware of the balloon earlier in the week. Reuters reported that the balloon had been tracked near the Aleutian Islands and Canada before entering the United States.

Unlike satellites, which require space launchers that cost hundreds of millions of dollars, balloons can be launched cheaply. But the technology doesn’t offer any intelligence-gathering capability beyond what China’s low-orbit satellites already provide.

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