China says suspected spy balloon over U.S. skies is a civilian airship

NBC News (Fair Use)

Chinese authorities said Friday that a suspected Beijing-operated spy balloon spotted hovering over sensitive U.S. airspace was in fact a civilian airship intended for scientific research.

China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that westerly wind had caused the airship to stray into U.S. territory, describing the incident as a result of “force majeure” — or greater force — for which it was not responsible.

“The airship comes from China and is of a civilian nature, used for scientific research such as meteorology,” according to a Google translation of a statement on the foreign ministry’s website.