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U.S. officials reportedly believe that they have identified a third Chinese spy balloon that is likely operating in the air right now, but they did not reveal its location.
The news comes after the U.S. military used an F-22 Raptor to take out a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday using a single air-to-air AIM-9X Sidewinder missile fired at an altitude of approximately 58,000 feet. The decision to shoot down the spy balloon came after President Joe Biden allowed it to fly thousands of miles over the continental U.S. during the last several days.
The Washington Post reported that the U.S. officials believe that there is “likely a third operating elsewhere,” but they declined to give the balloon’s location.
An official told the Post that Beijing was embarrassed by the incident. “They’re in a very tough place,” the official said. “And they have very few cards to play right now.”
The second Chinese spy balloon was detected over South America last week, according to U.S. military officials.
“We are seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America,” Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement. “We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon.”
China was furious after the balloon was shot down, claiming that it was “a clear overreaction and a serious violation of international practice,” and that it reserves “the right to make further responses if necessary.”
“China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and protest against the US’s use of force to attack civilian unmanned aircraft,” a statement said. “The Chinese side has repeatedly informed the US side after verification that the airship is for civilian use and entered the US due to force majeure – it was completely an accident.”
“China clearly asked the US to handle it properly in a calm, professional and restrained manner. A spokesman for the US Department of Defense also stated that the balloon will not pose a military or personal threat to ground personnel,” the Chinese concluded. “China will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of relevant companies, while reserving the right to make further necessary reaction.”