UPDATE [02/03/23, 9:25 a.m. EST]:
Fox News reports a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson confirmed on Friday: “The airship is from China. 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 statement added: “The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace due to force majeure. The Chinese side will continue communicating with the US side and properly handle this unexpected situation caused by force majeure.”
China has issued a response to reports of a suspected spy balloon spotted flying over Montana.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said during a Friday briefing, “China is a responsible country and we act in accordance with international law. We have no intention to violate other countries’ sovereignty and airspace.”
She continued, “And as I said, we are gathering and verifying the facts. We hope relevant parties would handle the matter in a cool-headed way.”
Mao Ning, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, urges all parties involved to remain 'cool-headed' as the US military tracks a suspected Chinese spy balloon flying over northwestern America.— Sky News (@SkyNews) February 3, 2023
Latest: https://t.co/UbnoYCfW47 pic.twitter.com/4eDsxzcUYM
Ning also suggested judgment should be withheld “before we have a clear understanding of the facts.”
Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement once the balloon was detected, “The U.S. government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information.”
.@NBCNews Exclusive: The U.S. military has been monitoring a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that has been hovering over the northern U.S. for the past few days. @ckubeNBC reports on this story. pic.twitter.com/bqiBPAuRKw— TODAY (@TODAYshow) February 3, 2023
A defense official told Fox News the government is “confident” the balloon belongs to the People’s Republic of China.
The government is thinking about bringing down the balloon with military assets, the outlet noted.
According to the official, the government has been tracking the object for “some time” and it came into U.S. airspace a “couple of days ago.”
The balloon sparked conversations on Twitter.
The Chinese surveillance floater over Montana is a literal trial balloon. And China is laughing at us.— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) February 3, 2023
Daniel Horowitz, senior editor at The Blaze, wrote, “Honestly, we have no idea what the truth is with the balloon. But what we do know is that our government is a client state of China so we can’t trust a word they say. For all we know the balloon could have payload on it. Either way, China doesn’t need a balloon to control us.”
Honestly, we have no idea what the truth is with the balloon. But what we do know is that our government is a client state of China so we can't trust a word they say. For all we know the balloon could have payload on it. Either way, China doesn't need a balloon to control us.— Daniel Horowitz (@RMConservative) February 3, 2023
One tweet wished a good morning to everyone except for “Presidents that are intimidated by China and won’t shoot down their spy balloon.”
Good morning to everyone except for Presidents that are intimidated by China and won’t shoot down their spy balloon.— Michael J. Morrison (@OfficeOfMike) February 3, 2023
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, suggested the president is “compromised by China because of his and Hunter’s corruption dealings.”
He added, “This helps explain why Biden is allowing in plain sight brazen violation of our sovereignty and attack on our national security by Chinese spy balloon. Why has it not been shot down!”
Let's be direct. Biden compromised by China because of his and Hunter's corruption dealings.— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) February 3, 2023
This helps explain why Biden is allowing in plain sight brazen violation of our sovereignty and attack on our national security by Chinese spy balloon. Why has it not been shot down! https://t.co/qRWwL5kPK7
The report comes as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to pay a visit to Beijing.