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Story: US-China rift over 'spy balloon' ; 06-02-2023;

The US shot down an alleged “Spy balloon” on Saturday, drifted from China.

U.S. fighter jet shot down the suspected Chinese spy balloon above the Atlantic Ocean off the South Carolina coast on Saturday.

The balloon over U.S. skies made headlines all over the world and has become a widely talked about topic ever since it was first spotted over Alaska's Aleutian Islands. The balloon flew over Canada before appearing over the city of Billings in Montana on Wednesday, according to officials.

• Montana is home to some of the US's nuclear missile silos.

U.S. alleged China of sending spy balloon over its skies:

The U.S. alleged China of sending a spy balloon over its skies, to perform some sort of surveillance task in sensitive areas. Foe—China rejected the allegations and said the balloon in the U.S. sky was nothing more than a wayward weather balloon.

• Surveillance balloons have a long history in espionage, and continue to provide some spying advantages, experts say.

• US defence officials said they believed the balloon, seen above sensitive areas in recent days, was in fact a "high-altitude surveillance" device.

Chinese Official said:

• The alleged spy balloon spotted over the US is a Chinese “civilian airship” which had deviated from its planned route, China says.

China's foreign ministry in a statement said, the balloon was used for “mainly meteorological” purposes. China “regrets the unintended entry” of the balloon into US airspace, it added.

• The Chinese statement said the balloon had been blown off-course by unexpected winds.

“Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course.” “The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace due to force majeure.” The statement referred to the incident as an “unexpected situation” and said Beijing would continue to communicate with the US side, statement said.

Why U.S. took this long to down the alleged Spy airship?:

The US decided not to shoot down the balloon because of the danger posed by falling debris, and the limited use of any intelligence the device could gather, a US defence official said.

However, the government prepared fighter jets in case the object had to be shot down.

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