China urges patience as it investigates Biden administration claims of spy balloon

 February 4, 2023

China has asked the U.S. to be "cool-headed" as it investigates claims by the Biden administration that a Chinese spy balloon flew inside American airspace and close to military facilities earlier this week for several days. 

“We have no intention to violate other countries’ sovereignty and airspace,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said Friday in Beijing. “We are gathering and verifying the facts. We hope the relevant parties will handle the matter in a cool-headed way.”

“Before it becomes clear what happened, any deliberate speculation or hyping-up will not help handling the matter,” she added.

Beijing visit in jeopardy

The reports of the spy balloon over western parts of the U.S. may interfere with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken's visit to Beijing, which was intended as a move toward normalizing relations with China.

Beijing reportedly wants to find common ground with the U.S. and planned to take steps to do so during the visit, but may not be able to if it is shown that China was spying on the U.S. so blatantly.

Blinken's trip is now in doubt, and Mao could not confirm that it will still happen, according to Bloomberg.

The balloon was hovering over Montana, which houses sensitive military sites like the Air Force’s 341st Missile Wing and its Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles.

President Biden met with military advisers to consider bringing the balloon down with military assets but decided not to do so because of the risks associated with the action.

Canada may have second incident

The Defense Department said that it was highly confident the balloon was Chinese, but didn't say why they believed this to be the case.

Canada's defense department said it was tracking a possible second incident, but didn't offer more information about it.

"A high-altitude surveillance balloon was detected and its movements are being actively tracked by NORAD," a statement from the Canadian Department of National Defence read. "Canadians are safe and Canada is taking steps to ensure the security of its airspace, including the monitoring of a potential second incident."

"NORAD, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Department of National Defence, and other partners have been assessing the situation and working in close coordination," the Canadian announcement continued.

The U.S. and Canada have been working together to gain information about the balloon and respond to the possible intrusion as the situation unfolds.

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