OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 8:43 AM PT – Friday, February 3, 2023
United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has officially postponed his scheduled trip to China.
Blinken has postponed his planned trip to China indefinitely due to the detection of the Chinese surveillance balloon flying over the United States.
“The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now,” Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder announced. “The U.S. government to include Norad, continues to track and monitor it closely. The balloon is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground.
The balloon was first detected on Thursday afternoon, although reports suggest that U.S. officials have known about the balloon for days.
The president has been advised, and chosen, not to shoot down the balloon, with officials claiming that if it was shot down, the falling debris could harm individuals on the ground.
China released a statement saying that the balloon is used mainly for “mainly meteorological” purposes. and that it “regrets the unintended entry” into U.S. airspace.
“The airship is from China. It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. “Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course.”
China also claims that it “regrets the unintended entry” into U.S. airspace.
The balloon had flown over Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, through Canada, and over the city of Billings in Montana, a state which houses some of the U.S.’s nuclear missile silos.
“It is unacceptable that this has occurred,” a senior official said. “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.”
Blinken was set to travel to China on Saturday to discuss the war in Ukraine with Chinese officials as well as to meet with President Xi Jinping.
The Secretary of State has noted that he has been in constant communication with the Chinese in regards to the balloon.
Republicans are demanding on why the Biden administration is not taking action in regards to the balloon. Some have demanded that Blinken needs to confront president Xi over the incident, while others want answers from President Joe Biden has not made a move to secure U.S. airspace.