US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has postponed a planned high-stakes weekend diplomatic trip to China as the Biden administration weighs a broader response to the discovery of a high-altitude Chinese balloon flying over “sensitive” sites in the western United States, two diplomatic sources tell CBS News, the latter reported.
The decision came despite China's claim that the balloon was a weather research satellite that had blown off course. The U.S. has described it as a surveillance satellite.
The trip was called off just hours before Blinken was due to depart Washington for Beijing and heightened the strain on U.S.-Chinese relations.
By Friday morning, the balloon was no longer over Montana, but had moved over the Midwest, according to a U.S. official.
It's not going to run out of fuel, since it has solar panels.
The Pentagon is still considering ways to "dispose" of it but has "grave concerns" about the damage it would cause if it fell to earth. U.S. government lawyers regard this as a violation of U.S. air space.
The discovery of the balloon was announced on Thursday by Pentagon officials who said one of the places where it was spotted was over the state of Montana, which is home to one of America's three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base.
Blinken’s meetings in China were to begin on Sunday and go through Monday.