Chase Doak, via AFP
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 05:31
The US Department of Defense says it has spotted a second balloon with which China is spying, according to Washington. This time one would have been spotted over Latin America. The Pentagon announced this more than 24 hours after the ministry reported such a balloon in North American airspace.
“We are seeing reports of a balloon passing over Latin America and are determining that it is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” a Pentagon spokesman said. Exactly where the thing hangs over Latin America has not been disclosed. Earlier it was said that a balloon was seen over Colombia and Venezuela, but that has not been confirmed. CNN reports based on an anonymous source that the balloon does not seem to be on its way to the US.
The United States has been under the spell of the ‘spy balloon’ phenomenon for a day now. US Secretary of State Blinken has postponed his visit to China because of all the commotion about the first balloon. He finds it unacceptable that the balloon passes over American territory and speaks of a violation of US sovereignty.
China does not tolerate speculation
China has apologized, but maintains that the device is an off-course instrument used for meteorological research, among other things. The Chinese denounce that US politicians are using the balloon issue “to discredit China”.
According to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Blinken’s Chinese counterpart Wang Yi has reassured him that China is “a responsible country” that adheres to international law. He allegedly told Blinken that China would not accept “unfounded speculation” about the balloon.
Although both ministers speak out strongly on the issue, there is still plenty of diplomatic contact between China and the United States. The US State Department emphasizes that Blinken’s visit has only been postponed and not canceled completely.
‘Out of the country via North Carolina’
If Defense does not intervene, the US weather agency NOAA expects the first balloon to leave the country on Saturday morning. With the current wind, the balloon would end up in North Carolina after Missouri via the states of Kentucky and Tennessee on the east coast. From there, the balloon would float out into the ocean.
In Gastonia, a town in North Carolina, the police are already calling on people not to call the police if they see the balloon there. “We don’t have the ability to do anything at an altitude of 60,000 feet. And we’re pretty sure the federal police don’t want us interfering.” The police also urge residents not to try to shoot the balloon themselves.
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