US shoots down suspected China spy balloon

The US military shot down a Chinese balloon off the country's east coast on Saturday, according to American media, just hours after President Joe Biden vowed to "take care" of the suspected spy device. 

The operation was reported by Fox News and CNN after three southeastern airports were temporarily closed earlier in the day due to what the Federal Aviation Administration called a "national security effort." 

The controversy erupted on Thursday when US officials stated that they were tracking a large Chinese "surveillance balloon" in US skies but decided not to shoot it down due to concerns about harming people or property on the ground. 

As a result, Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a rare trip to Beijing on Friday. 

After some hesitation, Beijing admitted ownership of the "airship," but claimed it was a weather balloon that had been blown off course, and expressed regret for the situation. 

"The airship is Chinese. It is a civilian airship that is used for research, primarily meteorological research. 

"The Chinese side regrets the airship's unintentional entry into US airspace due to force majeure," China's foreign ministry said in a statement Friday. 

The balloon had flown over sensitive airbases and strategic nuclear missiles in underground silos in the northwest United States, raising concerns. 

The balloon was spotted over North and South Carolina in the country's east on Saturday, according to US media.

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