US

Chinese “spy” balloons have been spotted in skies above countries across five continents, according to US officials.

The US has also been in touch with its allies on the issue of the balloons, according to the White House.

It comes after US fighter jets shot down a suspected Chinese spying device off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday.

Another suspected surveillance balloon was spotted over Latin America on Monday.

Officials in Washington say they believe the device over the US was a spy balloon and that China intended to use it on sensitive military sites.

But Beijing insists that the balloons are for “civilian usage” and that they have simply blown off-course.

US President Joe Biden ordered the balloon over the US to be shot down over the Atlantic, off the coast of Myrtle Beach.

Read more:
US navy pulls downed ‘spy’ balloon from the sea
Suspected ‘spy balloon’ was same size as 20-storey building

On Tuesday, the US navy shared pictures of the downed balloon being removed by hand from the sea.

Officials described the balloon as being roughly 60m (200ft) tall and most likely weighing 71st (1,000lbs).

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Moment ‘spy balloon’ is shot down

Authorities had waited until the balloon went over the Atlantic to shoot it down given its size and weight and the associated risk to people and property.

The Chinese foreign ministry called the balloon shooting an “obvious overreaction” that “seriously violated international conventions”, in a statement on Sunday.

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The appearance of the balloon over the US sparked a diplomatic crisis between Washington and Bejiing, with US secretary of state Antony Blinken cancelling his visit to the world’s second-largest economy as a result.

The much-anticipated visit was to be the first of its kind since 2018.

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