Downed Chinese balloon aimed for Hawaii but was blown off course: US official

Downed Chinese balloon aimed for Hawaii but was blown off course: US official
Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover a suspected Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon that was downed by the US over the weekend over US territorial waters off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, US on Feb 5, 2023.
PHOTO: Reuters

WASHINGTON — US officials believe a Chinese balloon that was shot down after crossing the continental US originally had a trajectory that would have taken it over Guam and Hawaii but was blown off course by prevailing winds, a US official speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday (Feb 15).

The balloon, which Washington accuses Beijing of using for surveillance and China says was a civilian research vessel, drifted across Alaska's Aleutian Islands, then Canada and the central US before it was shot down by the US military off the coast of South Carolina on Feb 4.

The incident has further strained US-China relations and prompted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone a planned visit to Beijing last week.

US military and intelligence agencies tracked the balloon from when it lifted off from Hainan Island near China's south coast, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

The US military said on Monday it had recovered critical electronics from the balloon as well as large sections of the vessel itself.

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