Unites States officials say a massive surveillance balloon believed to be from China and first seen above Montana is being tracked as it flies over the continental United States.
On Friday, officials projected it was headed towards North Carolina.
Saturday morning, ABC affiliate WSOC said there are reports of it being seen in western North Carolina in the mountain area and making its way toward Charlotte.
China’s foreign ministry has claimed it is a civilian balloon used for meteorological purposes, but U.S. politicians, many on the right, are already demanding President Joe Biden shoot it down.
The current thinking is to wait until it is over the Atlantic Ocean to then try to shoot it down and retrieve it, according to a senior U.S. official familiar with the situation. A substantially localized airspace shutdown will likely be required in order to protect civilians while the U.S. tries to down the balloon, which is likely being navigated via Chinese spy satellites, the official said.
RELATED:Where the surveillance balloon has been spotted
Also on Friday, the Pentagon is now confirming that there is a second Chinese surveillance balloon flying over South America. There were reports earlier Friday of a balloon flying over Colombia and Venezuela, but there was no information until now.
RELATED: Pentagon: 2nd Chinese surveillance balloon spotted over South America
The Chinese Foreign Ministry posted a new statement in a form of a Q&A on their website early Saturday and slammed those taking advantage of the massive surveillance balloon.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed his upcoming trip to China, but the ministry claimed the visit had never been announced.
“As a matter of fact, neither China nor the US has announced any visits. It is the U.S.’ own business to release relevant information, and we respect that,” the statement read.
They also reiterated their denial that the surveillance balloon was being used to spy on the U.S., insisting that China has always abided by international law and that the balloon deviated from its scheduled route.
“This was completely an accident caused by force majeure, and the facts are very clear,” the statement continued.
The United States, elected officials and the media were also accused by the ministry of taking advantage of the incident.
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