The U.S. military shot down a Chinese high-altitude reconnaissance spy balloon flying over U.S. airspace on Saturday afternoon local time. China expressed strong dissatisfaction and protested against this, saying that the move violated international practice and would reserve the right to take further actions.
China’s foreign ministry issued a statement on Sunday morning Beijing time, stating: “The U.S.’s insistence on using force is an obvious overreaction and a serious violation of international practice. China will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of relevant companies, and reserves the right to make further necessary reactions.”
On Sunday, China’s Ministry of Defense protested the US “attack” on a Chinese civilian drone airship, calling it an “obvious overreaction”.
“We express solemn protest against the U.S. action and reserve the right to use necessary means to deal with similar situations,” China’s Ministry of National Defense said in a statement.
The U.S. military shot down a balloon suspected of being a Chinese spy off the coast of the Carolinas on Saturday as it passed through sensitive military sites across North America. China insisted that the airship was for civilian use and entered the United States due to force majeure, which was completely accidental, and demanded that “the United States handle it properly in a calm, professional and restrained manner.”
U.S. President Joe Biden ordered the balloon shot down, but he hoped to do so by early Wednesday. U.S. officials said Biden was told the best time to act was when the balloon was over the ocean. Army officials determined that shooting it down from 60,000 feet onto land would pose an unnecessary risk to those on the ground.
“They managed to shoot it down, and I want to commend our pilots,” Biden said after disembarking from Air Force One on the way to Camp David.
The giant white orb was spotted over the Carolinas Saturday morning as it approached the Atlantic coast. At around 2:39 p.m. ET, an F-22 fighter jet fired a missile at the balloon, knocking it down about 6 nautical miles off the coast near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, senior defense officials said.
Multiple fighter jets and a tanker were involved in the mission, but only one F-22 from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia used an AIM-9X supersonic heat-seeking jet, a senior U.S. military official said. Anti-aircraft missiles shot down the balloon.
Debris splashed down in 47 feet of water, which was shallower than officials had expected, and covered about 7 miles in a recovery effort that included several boats. Officials estimate the recovery will be completed in a short period, not weeks. A salvage ship is on its way to the splashdown area.
U.S. Defense Secretary Austin issued a statement Saturday afternoon saying that this afternoon, at the direction of President Biden, U.S. fighter jets from the U.S. Northern Command successfully shot down a high-altitude surveillance balloon flying by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) over the coast of South Carolina, U.S.A. The balloon is used by China to monitor strategic locations in the continental United States.
The statement said that by the President’s instructions, the Ministry of National Defense has developed a plan to safely shoot down the balloon over our territorial waters, while closely monitoring the balloon’s path and intelligence-gathering activities. This action was taken with the coordination and full support of the Government of Canada.
The statement emphasized that today’s deliberate and lawful actions demonstrate that President Biden and his national security team will always put the safety and security of the American people first, while effectively responding to China’s unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.
The balloons were seen over the United States this week, an incident that dealt a blow to strained U.S.-China relations that have been on a downward spiral for years and prompted Secretary of State Blinken to abruptly cancel a high-stakes trip to Beijing aimed at easing tensions. OK.
The balloon entered the U.S. air defense zone north of the Aleutian Islands on Jan. 28 and moved over Alaska before entering airspace in Canada’s Northwest Territories on Monday, U.S. defense and military officials said Saturday. The balloon crossed over northern Idaho back into U.S. territory on Tuesday, and the White House said Biden was briefed on the news for the first time that day.
The balloon was spotted Thursday over Montana, home to Malmstrom Air Force Base, which has numerous nuclear missile silos.
The U.S. gathered intelligence on the balloon as it flew over the United States, giving them days to analyze it, how it moved, and what it was able to monitor, two senior defense officials said. The officials briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity.
The officials said the U.S. military is continually assessing the threat and has concluded that the technology on the balloon does not provide China with significant intelligence beyond what it already has from satellites, despite steps the U.S. has taken to reduce the Information that may be collected.
Although the shooting down of the Chinese spy balloon on Saturday ended the military dimension of the espionage incident, Biden is likely to continue to face intense political scrutiny from Republican opponents in Congress who believe he did not move quickly enough.
After the balloon was shot down, the U.S. government communicated directly with China about the action, a senior administration official said. The State Department has also briefed allies and partners around the world about the situation, the official said.
There are still many questions about how much information China may have gathered during the balloon’s journey across the United States.