WASHINGTON—The U.S. tracked a Chinese reconnaissance balloon over the continental U.S. this week, U.S. officials said.
The balloon sighting came days before Secretary of State Antony Blinken was set to travel to the Chinese capital for high level talks.
The incident, which occurred in the last two days, marked one of the most aggressive Chinese intelligence gathering maneuvers in recent years.
Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the U.S. “has detected and is tracking a high altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now.”
“We continue to track and monitor it closely,” Gen. Ryder said. “Once the balloon was detected the U.S. government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information.”
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and other top defense officials briefed President Biden on Wednesday. Mr. Biden ordered that the high-altitude balloon be shot down after it was spotted and reported by civilians in a commercial airliner, U.S. officials said. The Pentagon opposed the move, fearing civilian casualties.
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