China scrambles fighter jets to shoot down unidentified object in its airspace

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    The Chinese military is on high alert after an unidentified object spotted flying over the port city of Qingdao.

    The reports come after weeks of speculation about giant balloons – one of which the Pentagon claimed was a Chinese surveillance device – floating over the US and Canada.

    Three objects – apparently balloons – have been sighted over the North American continent, leading to rising international tensions.

    READ MORE: Canada shoots down 'unidentified object' that violated its airspace

    The US government has already shot down two high-altitude objects, one close to Deadhorse, on Alaska's north-east coast and an object “the size of a small car” near Yukon, Canada. Both of them have yet to be identified.

    One Pentagon official told ABC News that the mystery object was “cylindrical and silver-ish gray” and gave the “balloon-like” appearance of floating without “any sort of propulsion”.

    Pilots sent to intercept the object said that “interfered with the sensors” on their aircraft, according to the Daily Boulder. They also claimed to be unable to identify any means of propulsion, and were unable to explain how it was staying in the air, despite the fact that it was cruising at an altitude of 40,000 feet.

    Now Chinese state newspaper The Global Times has reported a similar object over the major port in eastern Shandong Province.

    According to the Daily Mail an employee of the marine development authority of the city's Jimo district said authorities are preparing to shoot the unidentified object down.

    Fishermen in the area have been warned to watch out for falling débris.

    • Second Chinese spy balloon spotted after 'smoke and explosion seen in sky'

    US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has already postponed a planned trip to Beijing, which would have been the first visit to the country by a top American diplomat since 2018, over the “spy balloon” controversy.

    Blinken said the presence of the balloon over major US nuclear bases was “an irresponsible act and a clear violation of US sovereignty and international law that undermined the purpose of this trip”.

    Chinese officials have maintained that the balloon was a civilian weather balloon that went off course and that its entry into US airspace was a complete accident.

    However, a senior US state department official told The Guardian on Thursday that the craft was “clearly for intelligence surveillance and inconsistent with the equipment onboard for weather balloons.

    “It had multiple antennas to include an array likely capable of collecting and geolocating communications.”

    The other two aerial objects spotted over the US and Canada remain unexplained.

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