Multiple news agencies were on Friday reporting the United States is tracking what they suspect to be a Chinese surveillance balloon which has been flying over the United States for a couple of days.
In response, Beijing said on Friday it was working to verify the facts around the claims, warning against "hype" over the issue.
"Verification is under way" over the reports, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told a regular briefing, adding that "until the facts are clear, making conjectures and hyping up the issue will not help to properly resolve it".
US Military leaders had advised President Joe Biden against shooting the balloon out of the sky for fear debris could pose a safety threat, advice Biden accepted, US officials said.
Fighter jets were flown to examine the balloon while it was above the state of Montana, which is home to one of the US’ three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base.
"The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now," Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder told reporters.
"The balloon is currently travelling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground."
He said similar balloon activity has been seen in the past years, adding that the US took steps to ensure it did not collect sensitive information.
A separate US official said the spy balloon had been tracked near the Aleutian Islands and Canada before entering the United States. (Agencies)
Last updated: 2023-02-03 HKT 15:55