The U.S. Department of Defense revealed Friday that the suspected Chinese spy balloon that is flying over the United States has the ability to maneuver and has changed direction at 60,000 feet.
Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder would not say how the balloon could be maneuvered and refused to state if the communist Chinese government was in control of the balloon.
Ryder also refused to state if President Joe Biden is even considering shooting down the balloon as it flies over U.S. soil.
Ryder said that the balloon was “maneuverable” and that it the Pentagon assesses that “it will probably be over the United States for a few days.”
“We know that balloon has violated US airspace and international law — which is unacceptable. And we’ve conveyed this directly to the PRC on multiple levels,” he told reporters Friday. “The fact is, we know that it’s a surveillance balloon, and I’m not going to be able to be more specific than that.”
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed in a statement that the balloon was a “civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological purposes.”
The statement claimed that the balloon “deviated far from its planned course.” The distance from China to Montana is approximately 5,000 miles.
A U.S. official told The New York Times that the spy balloon traveled from China to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands then to Canada before ending up over Montana.
An official told CNN that the spy balloon has flown over “a number of sensitive sites” in the U.S. but claimed that it did not present a serious intelligence gathering risk.
“Clearly they’re trying to fly this — this balloon over sensitive sites … to collect information,” a U.S. official said on Thursday.
Suspected Chinese spy balloon found over northern U.S.
“The United States government … is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now," said a Pentagon spokesperson. pic.twitter.com/X1hmYSBgD1
— John Martin (@MartinInMontana) February 2, 2023
Biden administration officials claimed that they looked at whether there were options to shoot down the balloon but claimed that they did not feel comfortable doing so because it could cause damage to civilians when it hits the ground.
Professor Steve Tsang, the director of the China Institute at the SOAS University of London, said that China’s motive in sending the balloon to the U.S. is more “symbolic value, showing that the Chinese are able to send something in the air to survey U.S. military installations.”
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