Pentagon: The Chinese Balloon did not collect Intelligence Data over the US

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According to the Pentagon, the Chinese balloon, which was shot down by the US military over US territorial waters in early February, did not gather intelligence, DPA reported.

"As you heard at the time, we were aware that the balloon had intelligence-gathering capabilities," Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder said during a news conference yesterday in response to a question about the aircraft.

"But our assessment before and now is that it did not gather information while it was passing through or overflying the United States," Ryder added. He added that at the time, Washington also took "steps to reduce potential efforts to gather information from this balloon," without providing further details.

Relations between Washington and Beijing were already strained when the US military discovered in the country's airspace what US officials at the time suspected was a Chinese spy balloon, DPA recalled.

The US Air Force brought the balloon down on February 4 off the coast of South Carolina after it had hovered for days over the US mainland. Washington has accused China of espionage, a charge Beijing has denied. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken later canceled a trip to China over the balloon incident, but eventually visited the country in June. During his visit to the Chinese capital, both countries expressed intentions to stabilize their relations.

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