China says suspected spy balloon is “civilian airship”

February 3, 2023
The reported Chinese spy balloon.

The airship is from China. … The Chinese side will continue communicating with the US Side and properly handle this unexpected situation …

A Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson acknowledging a balloon over the U.S. to be from China. China says the balloon is a “research” airship.

After the U.S. government confirmed that a surveillance balloon was floating over Montana on Thursday: China acknowledged the vessel belongs to Beijing. On Friday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, “It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes. Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course. The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace due to force majeure (a larger force).

The balloon is continuing to move over the U.S. as of midday Friday. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, “The Chinese side will continue communicating with the US side and properly handle this unexpected situation …”

In response to this statement, the U.S. State Department said: “We have noted the PRC statement of regret, but the presence of this balloon in our airspace is a clear violation of our sovereignty as well as international law and is unacceptable that this has occurred.”

Also on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s scheduled trip to China has been postponed: In a trip previously scheduled to occur next week, Blinken would’ve been the highest-ranking official in the Biden administration to visit the country. A senior State Department official noted, “After consultations with our interagency partners, as well as with Congress, we have concluded that the conditions are not right at this moment for Secretary Blinken to travel to China." The official declined to say when Blinken will reschedule this trip.

Important To Note: The balloon reportedly flew over Canada before it was seen over Montana. Relating to the balloon, the Canadian government said Thursday it was monitoring "a potential second incident."

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China

China's suspected spy balloon prompts Blinken to postpone Beijing trip as Congress seeks answers (CNBC)

Blinken postpones high-stakes Beijing trip after suspected Chinese spy balloon is spotted over the U.S. (NBC News)

Government of Canada's Statement on High Altitude Surveillance Balloon

Image courtesy of Paul Holzwarth – Here's a video from John Martin

by Jenna Lee,