The Pentagon is tracking and monitoring a Chinese reconnaissance balloon over the continental United States. The US media reported it, quoting defense officials. The sighting of the suspicious balloon came just days before Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to travel to the Chinese capital for high-level talks. The incident marks one of Beijing’s most aggressive intelligence-gathering maneuvers in recent years.
Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said the US “has detected and is monitoring a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States at this time.” “We continue to follow and monitor it closely,” he added.
“Once the balloon was detected, the US government took immediate action to protect itself from the collection of sensitive information,” he continued. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and other senior defense officials briefed Joe Biden on Wednesday. The president had ordered the high-flying balloon shot down after it was spotted and reported by civilians in a commercial airliner, US officials said. The Pentagon opposed the move, fearing civilian casualties.