According to four US officials, the Biden administration is considering a plan to shoot down a large Chinese balloon suspected of tracking the US military, bringing it down once over the Atlantic Ocean, where remains could potentially be recovered. Can
One of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive operation, said President Joe Biden has given the green signal. In brief remarks Saturday in response to a reporter’s question about the balloon, Biden said: “We’re going to take care of that.”
The balloon was spotted over the Carolinas on Saturday morning as it approached the Atlantic coast. In preparation for the operation, the Federal Aviation Administration temporarily closed airspace along the Carolina coastline, including airports in Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina, until at least 2:45 p.m. EST Saturday.
Biden was inclined to jettison the balloon when he was first informed about it on Tuesday, but Pentagon officials advised against it, warning that the potential risk to people on the ground was a potential Chinese threat. Intelligence is more than an assessment of profit.
The balloon’s public disclosure this week canceled a visit to Beijing by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, scheduled for Sunday for talks aimed at reducing US-China tensions. The Chinese government tried to cancel Saturday.
“In fact, the US and China have never announced any visit, any such announcement is the US’s own business and we respect that,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday morning.
China continues to claim that the balloon was merely a weather research “airship” that was blown up. The Pentagon rejected this – as well as China’s argument that it was not being used for surveillance and had only limited navigational capability.
The balloon was seen over Montana, home to one of three US nuclear missile silo areas at Malmstrom Air Force Base.
Meanwhile, people with binoculars and telephoto lenses tried to find the “spy balloon” in the sky as it headed southeast over Kansas and Missouri at 60,000 feet (18,300 m).
The Pentagon also acknowledged reports of a second balloon flying over Latin America. “We now assess that this is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Brig. Pentagon Press Secretary General Pat Ryder said in a statement.
China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a question about the second balloon.
Blinken, who was scheduled to leave for Beijing from Washington late Friday, said he told senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi in a phone call that sending the balloon over the US was “an irresponsible act and that (China) ka) The decision to take this action on the eve of my visit is detrimental to the important discussions we were prepared to have.
Uncensored responses on the Chinese Internet reflected the official government stance that the US was exaggerating the situation.
Many users made jokes about the balloon. Some said that since the US had placed restrictions on the technology that China could buy to undermine the Chinese tech industry, they could not control the ballooning.
Others called it the “Wandering Balloon”, a reference to the newly released Chinese sci-fi movie called “The Wandering Earth 2”. In a sign of censorship, the “wandering balloon” hashtag was not searchable on Weibo as of Saturday evening.
Still others used it as an opportunity to poke fun at American security, saying it couldn’t even defend against a balloon, and nationalist influencers tried to use the news to mock America. Jumped for
“The US is calling this a national security threat posed by China to the US. This kind of military threat, in fact, we have not done it. And compared to the US military threat aimed at us in general, can you say it’s too little? Their surveillance planes, their submarines, their naval ships are all coming near our borders,” Chen Haoyang, a Chinese military expert at the Taihe Institute, said on Phoenix TV, one of the major national TV outlets.
China has denied any claims of espionage and said it was a civilian-use balloon for meteorological research.
On Saturday, China’s foreign ministry again insisted that the balloon’s journey was beyond its control and urged the US not to “smear” the balloons’ grounds.
Wang said that China “has always strictly adhered to international law, we do not accept any baseless speculation and propaganda. In the face of unforeseen situations, both sides should remain calm, communicate in a timely manner, There is a need to avoid judgments and manage differences.
Alfred Wu, associate professor at the National University of Singapore, said China’s apology did not seem sincere.
“Meanwhile, the relationship will not improve in the near future … The gap is huge.”
Associated Press writer Huizhong Wu in Taipei and Researcher Henry Hou in Beijing contributed to this report.
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