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U.S. Military Shoots Down Suspected Chinese Spy Balloon



(CTN News) – A week after it initially entered American airspace and set off a dramatic and public espionage story that deteriorated Sino-U.S. ties, a U.S. military fighter aircraft shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina.

Although the Pentagon advised deflating the balloon over open sea to protect people from debris falling to Earth from thousands of feet (meters) above commercial air traffic, President Joe Biden claimed to have given the order to do so on Wednesday.

Biden stated, “I want to commend our aviators who accomplished it. They successfully took it down.”

One F-22 fighter plane from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia fired the shot at 2:39 p.m. (1939 GMT) with a lone AIM-9X supersonic, heat-seeking air-to-air missile, according to a senior U.S. military official. Multiple fighter and refueling aircraft were part of the operation.

China vehemently denounced the military action on an airship that it said was utilized for meteorological and other scientific purposes and that had “totally accidentally” wandered into American airspace, claims categorically denied by American authorities.

China’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying it has “clearly requested the U.S. to handle this correctly in a calm, professional, and controlled way.” The United States insisted on employing force, which was an overreaction.

The Chinese spy balloon was shot down in relatively shallow waters six nautical miles from the American shore.

According to U.S. officials, the Chinese Spy balloon was shot down over relatively shallow water around six nautical miles off the American shore of the Atlantic Ocean. This might help attempts to retrieve pieces of Chinese spying equipment in the following days.

According to a U.S. military officer, the debris field covered seven miles (11 km) of water, and many U.S. military boats were there.

The balloon was brought down soon after the United States government banned flights into and out of Wilmington, Myrtle Beach, and Charleston airports in South Carolina due to an unspecified “national security action,” according to the authorities at the time. On Saturday afternoon, flights started up again.

While the military aspect of the eavesdropping drama is over thanks to Saturday’s shootdown, Biden is expected to continue under heavy political pressure from Republican rivals in Congress who claim he didn’t respond soon enough.

According to a senior administration official, the U.S. government personally discussed the move with China after shooting down the balloon. According to the individual, the State Department also informed friends and partners globally.

There are still unanswered questions about how much data China may have obtained during the Chinese spy balloon’s journey over America.

On January 28, the Chinese Spy balloon entered the Alaskan airspace of the United States, and on January 30, it entered Canadian territory.

On January 31, it later re-entered American airspace over northern Idaho, according to a U.S. military official. It did not return to open seas after crossing American territory, making a shootdown difficult.

The balloon’s location above the country was not made public by American authorities until Thursday.

Republican U.S. Representative Mike Rogers, who chairs the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, stated that it is obvious the Biden administration intended to conceal this national security blunder from Congress and the American people.

This criticism may have prompted Biden to emphasize on Saturday that he had ordered the Chinese Spy balloon to be shot down as quickly as possible days earlier.

Biden’s probable opponent in the 2024 race, former President Donald Trump, called earlier this week for the balloon to be shot down.

He has attempted to position himself as more assertive than Biden on China. The U.S.-China relationship will probably be a prominent topic of discussion in the 2024 presidential election.

According to a U.S. official, Washington had reported the shootdown to Beijing on Saturday after describing the Chinese Spy balloon’s presence as a “clear infringement” of American sovereignty.

Nevertheless, authorities on Saturday seemed to minimize the Chinese spy balloon’s influence on American national security.

The senior U.S. military official said, “Our assessment—and we’ll learn more when we pick up the debris—was that it was not expected to give considerable incremental value over and above existing (Chinese) intel capacity, like as satellites in low-Earth orbit.

A stream from a jet struck the Chinese Spy balloon, according to a Reuters photographer who saw the shootdown, but there was no explosion. Then it started to drop.

According to the Pentagon, the balloon was a component of a fleet of Chinese espionage balloons. It was reported that a second Chinese balloon was passing over Latin America on Friday.

The U.S. official said Chinese Spy balloons have previously been seen above nations on five continents, including East Asia, South Asia, and Europe.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a week’s trip to China scheduled to begin on Friday due to the alleged surveillance Chinese Spy balloon.

Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping had decided to postpone Blinken’s trip in November, disappointing some who regarded it as a long overdue chance to mend the increasingly strained ties between the two nations.

China wants a stable relationship with the United States to concentrate on its economy, which has been hurt by the now-abandoned zero-COVID policy and ignored by international investors concerned about what they perceive to be a return of state meddling in the market.

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Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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