US Working To Recover Suspected Chinese Spy Balloon
The US military said on Sunday that it was searching for the remains of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon it shot down the day before, in a dramatic spy story that has raised tensions further. US-China relations.
General Glen VanHerck, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and US Northern Command, said the US Navy is working to recover the balloon and its payload and the Defense Force Coast Guard is ensuring security for this operation.
A successful rollback is likely to help the United States better understand Chinese espionage capabilities, although US officials have downplayed the balloon’s impact on national security.
A US Air Force fighter jet shot down the hot air balloon on Saturday off the coast of South Carolina, a week after it first entered US airspace near Alaska. VanHerck said the incident happened in US territorial waters.
China dismissed the response as a “clear overreaction”, but analysts say any retaliatory moves by Beijing will likely be carefully considered to avoid worsening relations. .
Republican lawmakers on Sunday criticized President Joe Biden for waiting days to shoot down the balloon as it flew over the United States, accusing him of appearing weak to China and initially trying to trying to keep the violation of US airspace secret.
“I think it’s partly down to the president’s reluctance to take any actions that are perceived as provocative or confrontational with the Chinese communists,” said Tom Cotton, a Republican, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. institute, said.
Former President Donald Trump and his former director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, denied Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s assessment that similar balloons flew over the United States during his presidency .
“China has so much respect for ‘TRUMP’ that this happened, and it NEVER happened,” Trump wrote on the social networking site Truth Social.
But Republican Representative Michael Waltz backed Austin, telling the Washington Post that the Pentagon had informed Congress that Chinese balloons had been spotted near the United States several times during Trump’s tenure.
He said balloons have been spotted near Texas and twice near Florida, as well as previously seen near Hawaii and Guam.
Democrats said Biden’s decision to wait to shoot down the balloon until it passed through the United States protected civilians from debris falling to Earth.
“The president called for this to be addressed in a way that balances all the different risks. That’s exactly what happened,” US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on “State of the Union” program. ” by CNN.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer dismissed the Republican criticism as “premature and political.”
“The bottom line here is that shooting down the balloon above the water is not only the safest option, but also the one that maximizes our intelligence benefits,” he told a news conference.
The Pentagon will notify senators about the balloon and Chinese surveillance on February 15, Schumer said.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner, a Republican, said he believes China is using hot air balloons to find ways to counter US nuclear and missile defense systems.
“The president has allowed this to go through our most sensitive sites and won’t even tell the American public,” Turner said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Marco Rubio, a Republican and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told ABC News’ “This Week” program that China was trying to send a message that it could invade US airspace. Rubio said he doubted that the balloon’s shard would have much intelligence value.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)
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