“‘The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now,’ Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said during an impromptu briefing Thursday evening. ‘The U.S. government, to include NORAD, continues to track and monitor it closely.’

Ryder said the balloon is well above commercial air traffic and doesn’t pose a threat to civil aviation. He also said this isn’t the first time such a balloon has been seen over the United States.

After the balloon was detected, Ryder said, the U.S. government “acted immediately” to protect against the collection of sensitive information, though he didn’t detail what measures were taken.

A senior defense official who participated in the briefing on background only said the U.S. intelligence community has ‘very high confidence’ the balloon belongs to the People’s Republic of China, and that the United States has engaged with Chinese officials ‘with urgency, through multiple channels’ regarding the presence of the balloon.”