Chinese Balloon Shot Down Over US After Pressure
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
WASHINGTON (Worthy News) – U.S. President Joe Biden confirmed Saturday that he ordered the American military to shoot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the United States following mounting pressure.
The attack, underscoring worsening Sino-U.S. relations, came after questions among legislators and others about why Biden took so long to destroy the balloon, which was spotted over sensitive nuclear sites.
A U.S. Air Force fighter jet fired a single missile into the balloon six miles (nearly 10 kilometers) off the coast of South Carolina when it was over the Atlantic Ocean in U.S. territorial waters, confirmed the president, who is commander-in-chief. “We successfully took it down, and I want to compliment our aviators who did it,” President Joe Biden said.
He spoke as an operation was underway to recover debris from the balloon in the Atlantic Ocean.
Footage aired live of the balloon, which was floating at an altitude of around 60,000 feet, showing it deflating and falling toward the water below. President Biden had earlier declined to shoot it down, fearing casualties on the ground because of falling debris, officials said.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin said Biden “gave the authorization” to take out the balloon “as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to American lives under the balloon’s path.
The Pentagon had never ruled out the balloon would be shot down over water.
First seen over Montana, home to one of America’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base, the massive white orb, about the size of three school buses, had been crossing the U.S. for days.
Beijing expressed regret with the Chinese Foreign Ministry admitting the balloon was indeed theirs in a statement Friday but insisted it was “a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological purposes.”
In separate remarks Saturday, it said that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had spoken with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who postponed his trip to China over the ballooning controversy.
They “communicated on how to deal with accidental incidents in a calm and professional manner,” the Chinese ministry said.
The statement came hours after the U.S. military claimed it observed another Chinese surveillance balloon flying over Latin America without providing further details on its location.
Analysts say Saturday’s decision to shoot down the balloon was a signal to China, with Beijing investigating American military preparedness ahead of a possible military confrontation with the U.S. over Taiwan.
Beijing regards the democratically ruled island as its territory, and China watchers said the balloon was a “trial balloon” to see how far Washington was willing to use its military against a perceived Chinese threat
Biden last year told the U.S. television show “60 Minutes” that American troops would defend Taiwan, but the White House rushed later to say this is not “official” U.S. policy.
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