Biden says US will ‘take care of’ suspected Chinese spy balloon | News
The US president’s remark comes after China called for ‘calm’ over the balloon flying across the US.
President Joe Biden has said the United States is “going to take care of” a suspected Chinese spy balloon that has been tracked flying across the US.
Biden made the remark on Saturday in response to a question about whether Washington will shoot down the high-altitude surveillance balloon, which has been flying across the country in what Washington calls a “clear violation” of US sovereignty.
The president, who has not previously spoken about the suspected spy balloon, did not elaborate on what was planned.
Military leaders considered shooting down the high-altitude surveillance balloon this week but eventually recommended against this because of the risk of falling debris, officials told the Reuters news agency.
China has expressed regret that an “airship” used for civilian meteorological and other scientific purposes had strayed into US airspace.
After the discovery of the balloon, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a visit to China that had been expected to start on Friday.
The postponing of Blinken’s trip, which had been agreed to in November by Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, is a blow to those who saw it as an overdue opportunity to stabilise an increasingly fractious relationship. The last visit by a US secretary of state was in 2017.
Beijing has been eager for a stable Washington relationship so it could focus on its economy, battered by the now-abandoned zero-COVID policy.
China on Saturday played down the cancellation of the Blinken visit, saying that neither side had formally announced any such plan.
“In actuality, the U.S. and China have never announced any visit, the U.S. making any such announcement is their own business, and we respect that,” China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The ministry again emphasised that the balloon’s journey was out of China’s control and urged the US to not “smear” it based on the balloon.
Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi Wang said China “has always strictly followed international law, we do not accept any groundless speculation and hype. Faced with unexpected situations, both parties need to keep calm, communicate in a timely manner, avoid misjudgments and manage differences.”
The balloon was sighted over Montana on Wednesday and has travelled across the United States. It was seen over North Carolina on Saturday morning, according to commercial forecaster AccuWeather which has been tracking it.
The Pentagon said on Friday that another Chinese balloon was observed over Latin America, without saying where exactly.
“We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Brigadier General Pat Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement.
A spy balloon is literally a gas-filled balloon that is flying quite high in the sky, more or less where commercial aeroplanes are flown.
A spy balloon generally has sophisticated cameras and imaging technology, and points all of those instruments down at the ground, collecting information through photography and other imaging of whatever is on the ground below it.