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US reveals images of a deflated “spy” balloon and promises a calm approach to China

The United States has released images of a deflated “spy” balloon that it said had been discovered in Chinese-claimed territory in the South China Sea. The U.S. said it will take a calm, measured approach to the situation.

The images were circulated by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, which said the balloon was recovered from the Spratly Islands by U.S. Marines on April 9. The balloon, which is believed to have been deployed by the Chinese military, was used for surveillance purposes.

Indo-Pacific Command said the balloon was discovered during a routine operation and was safely recovered in accordance with international law. It said the U.S. would continue to monitor the situation and take a calm, measured approach.

The incident comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and China over the South China Sea. The U.S. has accused China of militarizing the area and has conducted multiple freedom of navigation operations in the region in recent months.