By Oren Liebermann
February 2, 2023
CNN — The Pentagon is tracking a suspected Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon over the continental United States, a senior defense official said on Thursday.
The Pentagon has been tracking the balloon for several days as it made its way over the northern United States, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said. He added that the US military decided against shooting the balloon down.
“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,” Ryder said.
“We are confident that this high-altitude surveillance balloon belongs to the [People’s Republic of China],” the senior defense official said. “Instances of this activity have been observed over the past several years, including prior to this administration.”
The official said the US government has engaged with the Chinese government both through the Chinese embassy in Washington and the US diplomatic mission in China.
The balloon “does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground,” Ryder said.