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This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, orange, emerging from the surface of cells, green, cultured in the lab. (NIAID-RML via AP) This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, orange, emerging from the surface of cells, green, cultured in the lab. (NIAID-RML via AP)

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U.S. downs Chinese balloon, a flashpoint in U.S.-China tensions

The U.S. military on Saturday shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast on orders from President Joe Biden, after it traversed sensitive military sites across North America, becoming the latest flashpoint in tensions between Washington and Beijing.

In this photo provided by Brian Branch, a large balloon drifts above the Kingston, N.C. area, with an airplane and its contrail seen below it. The United States says it is a Chinese spy balloon moving east over America at an altitude of about 60,000 feet (18,600 metres), but China insists the balloon is just an errant civilian airship used mainly for meteorological research that went off course due to winds and has only limited "self-steering" capabilities. (Brian Branch via AP)

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