Presence of Chinese balloon is likely to complicate efforts to reset relations with Beijing
WASHINGTON—The State Department has indefinitely postponed Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Beijing after what U.S. officials identified as a Chinese reconnaissance balloon was detected loitering above the continental U.S., a U.S. official said.
U.S. officials on Thursday said the craft was loitering over Montana having earlier crossed Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and Canada. The Pentagon scrambled jets and at one point considered shooting down the balloon, the officials said, though didn’t over concerns that the debris posed a risk to people on the ground.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday denied that the craft was a spy vehicle but was in fact a civilian balloon designed primarily for meteorological study and had blown off course. “China will continue to maintain communication with the U.S. to properly handle the unexpected situation,” a brief ministry statement said.
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