Biden assures US public Chinese balloon to be 'taken care of'
The Pentagon confirmed on Thursday that it was tracking a Chinese balloon flying high over the United States, just days ahead of a rare visit to Beijing by the Secretary of State Antony Blinken which was cancelled following the incident.
US President Joe Biden on Saturday appeased public concerns of Americans by vowing to 'take care' of the Chinese research balloon that is suspected of being used for spying purposes by China.
"We're going to take care of it," Biden said, as quoted by ABC News.
The Pentagon confirmed on Thursday that it was tracking a Chinese balloon flying high over the United States, just days ahead of a rare visit to Beijing by the Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
A senior defense official told reporters that at US President Joe Biden's request, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and top military officials allegedly considered shooting the balloon down but decided that doing so would endanger too many people on the ground.
Read more: China says working to 'verify' reports it flew spy balloon over US
On Friday, Beijing's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said via a spokesperson that China regretted the unintended breach of US airspace.
The spokesperson said that the device had strayed away from its planned course due to force majeure.
This came ahead of a scheduled visit to China by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken intended to ease the tensions between the two countries.
The Financial Times reported that Blinken canceled his trip to Beijing over the incident, hours before he was supposed to depart for China.
Read more: Pentagon suspects second Chinese 'spy balloon' over Latin America
Likewise on Friday, Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder said that the Chinese research balloon that accidentally breached US airspace on Thursday poses no threat to people on the ground.
Ryder told a press conference that the balloon was a surveillance balloon, adding, "We do assess at this time that it does not pose a physical threat to people on the ground."
"Clearly, it is a balloon that has a payload underneath it… It's got a large payload – the surveillance component – underneath the actual balloon piece of it."
Ryder added that the balloon was expected to hover over the US for several more days. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is continuing to track it.
At present time, shooting down the balloon may injure civilians or damage property, Ryder said, noting that it was currently around 60,000 feet above the ground, specifically above the zone where civilian aircraft operate.
Ryder also noted that the balloon was maneuverable.
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