Washington, (EFE).- The United States announced that it detected an alleged Chinese spy hot air balloon, which is currently flying over its territory at high altitude and that “it does not represent any military or physical risk” to anyone on the surface.
The Pentagon spokesman, Pat Ryder, specified in a statement that the US is currently following the movements of the balloon “closely”, which travels at a higher altitude than commercial air traffic.
“Once the balloon was detected, the US government acted immediately to protect itself against the collection of sensitive information” by China, Ryder said, noting that this is not the first time that authorities have detected a balloon. apparatus of this type in recent years.
For his part, a high-ranking defense official said in a telephone conversation with reporters that they believe the balloon belongs to China and that US President Joe Biden has been informed about it.
In fact, the president asked US military officials about possible “options”, while Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with the Pentagon leadership on Wednesday, despite the fact that he was traveling to the Philippines .
Both the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, and the leader of the Northern Command, General Glen VanHerck, strongly recommended “not taking any kinetic action” because of the risk it could pose to people in the surface, due to the possible fall of debris from the balloon.
In this sense, the Defense source explained that the device is “big enough” to cause damage if it is knocked to the ground.
He explained that on Wednesday they evaluated the option of shooting it down in a sparsely populated area of Montana (USA), but they chose not to risk it, and that they have received warnings from pilots who have sighted it despite the fact that it flies quite high.
The Defense source assured that this device “has limited additional value” with regard to the collection of intelligence material.
The announcement comes before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken begins a two-day visit to China on Sunday, the first trip by a US foreign minister to the Asian country since 2018.
The Defense official stated that after the detection of the balloon they have been in contact with Chinese officials through various channels, such as the respective Chinese and US embassies in Washington and Beijing.
“We have conveyed to them the seriousness with which we take this matter,” remarked the source, who added that the US “will do whatever is necessary to protect its people and its territory.”