Former President Donald Trump weighed in Friday on the Chinese surveillance balloon flying over Montana in a Truth on Truth Social.
“SHOOT DOWN THE BALLOON!” the former president posted.
The Department of Defense (DoD) is tracking a suspected high-altitude Chinese surveillance balloon that appears to be collecting data on sensitive U.S. sites over Montana. Montana is home to the Malmstrom Air Force Base where U.S. Minuteman III nuclear missiles are stored.
The DoD released a statement Thursday night saying the balloon “is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground.”
“Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years,” the statement continued, though it did not specify when the alleged other incidents took place. “Once the balloon was detected, the U.S. government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information.”
China responded, saying a weather balloon blew off course over the continental U.S. (RELATED: ‘Significant Threat’: Small-Town Mayor Blocks Proposed Chinese Mill Near Military Base)
China initially tried to avoid responsibility but later claimed ownership of a “civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes,” that accidentally “deviated far from its planned course.”
“The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into U.S. airspace due to force majeure.”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said Friday at a briefing that “China is a responsible country and we always act in accordance with international law.”
“We hope both side can handle the matter together in a cool-headed and prudent manner.”