2nd Chinese Spy Balloon Spotted Over Latin America: Pentagon
WASHINGTON: A second Chinese ballon which the Chinese claim is a weather research satellite has been spotted this time over Latin America said, the pentagon on Friday. The first balloon was spotted over Montana, which is home to one of America’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base. The U.S. has described it as a surveillance satellite.
“We are seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America. We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Pentagon press secretary Brig Gen Patrick Ryder said in a statement. US officials said it was tracking the spy balloon across the country and said it is expected to remain in US airspace for the next few days.
Following the spotting of the balloon Secy of State Antony Blinken has postponed a planned high-stakes weekend diplomatic trip to China. The trip was called off just hours before Blinken was due to depart Washington for Beijing and heightened the strain on U.S.-Chinese relations.
On Friday morning, Blinken told his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, that the trip would need to be postponed, but he intends to visit at a future date. In the morning, the balloon was no longer over Montana but had moved over the Midwest, according to a U.S. official. It’s not going to run out of fuel, since it has solar panels. The official also said that the balloon steers by rudder and is corkscrewing around to slow its progress over land, but the jet stream continues to move it on a trajectory across the U.S. The Pentagon is still considering ways to “dispose” of it but has “grave concerns” about the damage it would cause if it fell to earth. U.S. government lawyers regard this as a violation of U.S. air space.