China says it reserves right to respond to downing of surveillance balloon

The balloon's flight over the U.S. added tension to the U.S.-China relationship.

A massive Chinese surveillance balloon that moved across the continental U.S. this week has been shot down.

The Pentagon has confirmed the balloon was being used for surveillance, disputing China's claim that it was a civilian aircraft used for meteorological purposes. Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the balloon didn't pose a physical or military threat, and once it was detected, the U.S. took steps to protect against foreign intelligence collection of sensitive information.

The FBI is expected to take custody of any recovered components of the balloon and ship them to its lab in Quantico, Virginia, for analysis and intelligence gathering, a senior government official told ABC News.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a planned trip to China as the balloon's presence over the continental U.S. added new tension to the U.S.-China relationship. Blinken called the balloon a "clear violation" of U.S. sovereignty and international law.


Biden doesn’t take any questions about balloon as he talks economy

President Biden declined to take any questions about what U.S. officials call a Chinese surveillance balloon as he discussed the latest jobs report on Friday morning.

"If you want to ask me a question about the economy, but I'm not going to answer any questions about anything else because you never will cover this," Biden said.

Reporters shouted several questions about the balloon as Biden exited the South Court Auditorium but he didn't stop to answer them.

Pentagon to hold press briefing at noon

Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder will conduct an on-camera press briefing at noon on Friday as the Biden administration faces questions about what U.S. officials call a Chinese surveillance balloon flying over the U.S.

Ryder said in a statement Thursday that the government was tracking the balloon and that it didn't present a military threat.

"Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years. Once the balloon was detected, the U.S. government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information," Ryder said.

Secretary of state delays visit

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is postponing his visit to China after the balloon was tracked soaring across the country.

Blinken will delay his upcoming trip to Beijing, originally scheduled for next week. The official noted that Blinken did not want to blow the situation out of proportion by canceling his visit, but also does not want the balloon to dominate his meetings with Chinese officials.

China claims balloon is civilian in nature

The Chinese Foreign Ministry is saying the balloon is civilian in nature and used for scientific research, "mainly meteorological."

"The airship is from China," the foreign ministry said. "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."

It continued, "The Chinese side will continue communicating with the US side and properly handle this unexpected situation caused by force majeure."

"Force majeure" refers to something that is done beyond the control of the government.