China-US balloon row: US President Joe Biden on Monday said China committed such a brazen act of floating balloons across continental America because they are the Chinese government,
“They’re the Chinese government,” Biden told reporters at the White House when asked why the Chinese would commit such a brazen act of floating across the entire continental United States.
“The question of the balloon and attempting to spy on the United States is something that’s anticipated from China. The question is whether or not -- when we asked China what they’re doing, they didn’t deny they had the balloon over -- they just denied what it was,” Biden said in response to a question.
“It is not a question of trusting China, it’s a question of deciding where we should work together and where we have opposition,” said the President in response to another question as he landed on the South Lawns of the White House from Camp David.
Impact on US-China relation
Biden said this is not going to weaken the US-China relationship.
“No. We’ve made it clear to China what we’re going to do. They understand our position. We’re not going to back off. We did the right thing. And there’s not a question of weakening or strengthening; it’s just the reality,” he said. The President said that it was always his position to shoot down the balloon.
“It was always my position. Once it came into the United States from Canada, I told the Defence Department I wanted to shoot it down as soon as it was appropriate. They concluded, we should not shoot it down over land, it was not a serious threat, and we should wait until it got across the water,” Biden said.
Chinese govt admits balloon was from China
On February 6, China admitted that a huge balloon spotted over Latin America belongs to it, days after the US military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew over the continental US for days.
The Colombian Air Force and Costa Rica’s Civil Aviation Authority both confirmed that a white observation balloon similar to the one spotted over the US was tracked in their airspace last week, though they did not attribute the vessel to China. This is the first time Beijing has admitted the balloon spotted over two Latin American countries belongs to China.
"With regard to the balloon over Latin America, it has been verified that the unmanned airship is from China, of civilian nature and used for flight test," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told reporters here in response to a volley of questions on the two suspected spy balloons.
China has denied accusations of spying, saying it was monitoring the weather.
"Affected by the weather and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course and entered into the airspace of Latin America and the Caribbean," Mao said. "China is a responsible country and always acts in strict accordance with international law. We have informed relevant sides. It is being properly handled and will not pose any threat to any country. They have expressed their understanding," she said.
US downs Chinese surveillance balloon, China threatens repercussions
On February 5, the US military downed the Chinese spy balloon over the Atlantic Ocean and launched a mission to recover all the equipment from its debris, drawing a strong reaction from China which on Sunday warned of repercussions over America's use of force against its civilian unmanned airship. At the direction of President Joe Biden, the US military at 2.39 pm EST on Friday shot down the Chinese surveillance balloon in the Atlantic Ocean, some six miles (9.65 kms) away from the US shores in South Carolina, with no damage to the life and properties of Americans, a senior defence official told reporters in Washington.
Fighter aircraft from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia inspired a single missile into the balloon, causing it to crash into the ocean within the US territorial airspace, said the official, adding that as of now there are no indications that any people including US military personnel, civilian aircraft or maritime vessels were harmed in any way.
Chinese 'spy balloon' around the size of 'three buses'
On February 3, the Pentagon alleged that a Chinese "spy balloon" around the size of "three buses" was spotted over the United States' airspace. This comes days ahead of US State Secretary Antony Blinken's scheduled visit to Beijing. Speaking to the media, Pentagon Spokesman Brigadier Gen Pat Ryder said the US has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is currently flying over the continental region of the country.
(With PTI input)
Also Read: Chinese 'spy balloon' around the size of 'three buses' detected over US airspace: Pentagon