Pentagon releases selfie of U.S. pilot flying over suspected Chinese surveillance balloon

A U.S. Air Force U-2 pilot looks down at the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon on Feb. 3 over the Central Continental United States, according to the Pentagon. Photo: U.S. Department of Defense via Getty Images

The Pentagon released Wednesday a photo of a suspected Chinese government surveillance balloon it says was snapped by an American U-2 pilot flying just above the device over the "Central Continental United States" on Feb. 3.

Why it matters: The balloon that was shot down off the South Carolina coast the following day escalated tensions between the U.S. and Chinese governments and forced Secretary of State Tony Blinken to postpone his planned trip to Beijing.

The big picture: The State Department said the device was capable of collecting communications and rejected Beijing's claims that it was a weather balloon.

  • Blinken raised the issue on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference over the weekend with Wang Yi, China's top diplomat — who moments earlier called Washington's reaction "absurd and hysterical."

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