US military shoots down Chinese spy balloon

Chinese spy balloon ,screen grab.

The US military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the Atlantic Ocean off the Eastern Seaboard of the United States yesterday according to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. President Joe Biden approved the operation, which resulted in a diplomatic fallout between Washington and Beijing. The balloon was first spotted in the sky over Montana earlier in the week and had travelled across the country before being shot down off the coast of South Carolina.

The discovery of the balloon prompted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone his diplomatic visit to China this week. Biden faced criticism from Republicans for allowing the balloon to continue drifting above the continental US for days, CNN reported. Military officials had advised against shooting down the balloon while over the US mainland due to the risk posed by the debris to civilians and property on the ground. However, they maintained that all options were on the table.

Waiting to carry out the operation allowed the US to study and scrutinise the balloon and its equipment. A senior defence official said that the US had learned technical things about the balloon and its surveillance capabilities, and there were plans for the equipment to be analysed by experts from the FBI and intelligence agencies.

The Federal Aviation Administration had issued a ground stop for airports in Wilmington, North Carolina, and Charleston and Myrtle Beach in South Carolina before the balloon was shot down. Advanced F-22 fighter jets from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia fired a single missile to bring down the Chinese spy balloon at 2:39 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday. The moment of impact could be seen from the shore.

The military’s attention now turns to recover the balloon debris, which is in 15 metres of water. The US Navy and Coast Guard had assets on standby to assist with the recovery effort before the balloon was shot down. There are plans for the balloon equipment to be taken to the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, for analysis. The Pentagon has launched a collaborative effort with the FBI and counterintelligence authorities to assist with categorising and assessing the platform.

China’s Foreign Ministry has said the balloon entered US airspace by accident, but the State Department has said the presence of the balloon in US airspace was “a clear violation of our sovereignty as well as international law, and it is unacceptable that this has occurred.” Biden told reporters in Syracuse, New York, earlier on Saturday that his administration would take care of the suspected Chinese spy balloon. He had been discussing options with top military officials since being briefed on the balloon on Tuesday.

The shoot-down of the Chinese spy balloon is a significant development in the US-China relationship, which has become increasingly strained in recent years. Tensions between the two nations have risen over issues such as trade, human rights, and technology. The US has accused China of using its military and economic power to threaten US interests and influence around the world.

China NewsWorld News

Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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