The US confirmed the shooting down of the suspected spy balloon over territorial waters.
US President Joe Biden informed: "They successfully took it down, and I want to compliment our aviators who did it."
The military is now trying to recover debris which is spread over seven miles, as the surveillance balloon’s collection of sensitive information holds intelligence value.
The Chinese authorities have denied it is a spying aircraft, and instead said it was a weather ship blown astray and has expressed strong dissatisfaction.
In a statement the Chinese foreign ministry said: "The Chinese side has repeatedly informed the US side after verification that the airship is for civilian use and entered the US due to force majeure - it was completely an accident."
China expressed “strong dissatisfaction and protest against the use of force by the United States”, the downing of the "civilian unmanned" aircraft was "clearly overreacting and seriously violating international practice."
"China will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of relevant enterprises and reserve the right to make further necessary responses," the statement added.
The suspected spy balloon first entered US airspace over Alaska on January 28, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called off the scheduled trip to China after the discovery of the balloon.