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Chinese language spy balloon over delicate US places

A Chinese spy balloon has been flying over the US for several days, US officials said, in a brazen act just days before Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s planned trip to Beijing.

Although fighter jets are on standby, the top military has advised US President Joe Biden not to issue an order to shoot down the balloons, reports Reuters.

U.S. military leaders considered shooting down a balloon over Montana on Wednesday, but ultimately advised Biden against it because of the security risk from balloon debris.

F-22s from Billings Airport in Montana are on standby in case Biden does order the balloon to be shot down.

The balloon’s current flight path indicates that it will be over a number of sensitive locations. Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana is home to 150 ICBM silos.

On the other hand, the Canadian Ministry of Defense announced that a “spy balloon” had been discovered and that it was monitoring a “potential second incident”, without giving details, while noting that it was in regular contact with the US.

Pentagon: The balloon does not pose a military or physical threat to people on the ground

The news was originally reported as CIA Director William Burns spoke at an event at Washington’s Georgetown University, where he called China the “biggest geopolitical challenge” America is currently facing.

Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder told reporters the balloon was currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and did not pose a military or physical threat to people on the ground.

US officials said they had raised the issue with their Chinese counterparts through diplomatic channels and had “communicated to them the seriousness of the situation”.

The balloon was judged to have “limited value from an intelligence gathering perspective.”

Beijing calls for calm: We are monitoring reports of a bubble

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning China said Beijing was monitoring media reports and writing about an alleged Chinese spy balloon spotted in US airspace and called for calm.

“China is a responsible country and has always strictly adhered to international laws, and Beijing has no intention of violating the territory and airspace of any sovereign country. Regarding the balloons, as I just mentioned, we are reviewing and checking the situation and we hope that both sides will be able to deal with it together calmly and carefully,” Mao said at a regular press conference, AP reports.

Mao added that politicians and the public should refrain from jumping to conclusions.

As she said, there is no information on whether the planned visit of the US Secretary of State to Beijing will be postponed.

Blinken is scheduled to travel to China next week for a visit agreed in November by Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Relations between China and the United States have soured in recent years, particularly after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last August, which sparked Chinese military exercises near the island, which Beijing claims.

Since then, Washington and Beijing have sought to communicate more often and prevent further deterioration of relations.

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