The balloon controversy between China and the United States continued. The United States accused a Chinese spy balloon of violating its airspace, but China claimed that the balloon was a civilian airship and flew into the local area due to force majeure.
President Joe Biden said on February 4 that Washington would "take care" of the balloon, and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin later confirmed that the balloon was shot down by U.S. warplanes over the Atlantic Ocean off South Carolina.
American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Fox News (Fox News) reported that when Biden went to New York on the 4th, when asked whether the government had plans to shoot down the balloon, he said that Washington would take care of it, but did not disclose details. It was also his first public statement on the incident.
The report pointed out that as of about 10:30 a.m. on the 4th, Eastern Time, the balloon was over Charlotte, North Carolina.
The U.S. Department of Defense official stated that the balloon entered the U.S. Air Defense Identification Zone on January 28. The Canadian Air Defense Identification Zone found the balloon on the 30th and entered and appeared in the U.S. airspace again on the 31st. The U.S. military had taken precautionary measures to fly the balloon over The risk of intelligence gathering at sensitive facilities is minimized.
The United States accuses a suspected Chinese spy balloon of violating the border: The picture shows February 1, 2023. This photo obtained by Reuters from social media shows a balloon appearing over Billings, Montana, USA .
The balloon incident may lead to further tension in US-China relations, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's planned visit to China has been postponed indefinitely.
Republican-controlled states such as Missouri and Montana criticized Biden for being too weak and asked the White House to order the balloon down.
However, many Washington officials are worried that shooting down the balloon rashly may cause harm to the people on the ground.
Operations at three airports temporarily suspended for national security work
The FAA later ordered airports in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and airports in Charleston, North Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina, to suspend flights, while commercial aircraft also stopped operations. Flying into South Carolina and the 100-square-mile area off the Atlantic Ocean is prohibited to support the Department of Defense in implementing national security work. However, the Department of Defense once refused to comment on the news, emphasizing that it will continue to track the balloon.
Senior officials of the Department of Defense revealed to the media that the U.S. Air Force sent an F-22 fighter jet to shoot down the balloon with an AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missile over the Atlantic Ocean 6 nautical miles off of Myrtle Beach at 2:39 pm local time. A ship was dispatched to recover the remains of the balloon, and local media quoted two sources as saying that the debris may be sent to an FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, for analysis.
After the U.S. military sent warplanes to shoot down a Chinese balloon on February 4, Reuters photographers captured what appeared to be the balloon's aftermath in Holden Beach, North Carolina.
Biden: Order to shoot down balloons on February 1
A statement from the U.S. Department of Defense stated that Biden authorized on the 1st to shoot down the balloon under conditions that would not endanger the American people.
The Pentagon also mentioned that China used the balloon involved in an attempt to monitor strategic facilities in the United States.
Beijing: Dissatisfied with Washington's approach
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on the 5th that it expressed strong dissatisfaction and protest against Washington's use of force to attack civilian unmanned airships, and reiterated that China has repeatedly informed the US side after verification that the airship is of a civilian nature and entered the United States due to force majeure, which was completely accidental.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated that China clearly requires the US to properly handle the incident in a calm, professional and restrained manner.
A spokesman for the US Department of Defense also stated that the balloon will not pose a military or personal threat to ground personnel.
Under such circumstances, the U.S. insists on using force, obviously overreacting and seriously violating international practice.
China will resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of relevant companies, while reserving the right to make further necessary reactions.
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