'Ordered to shoot it down ASAP, they said...': Biden on Chinese ‘spy’ balloon

Feb 05, 2023 06:28 AM IST

Te US military at 2.39 pm EST shot down the Chinese surveillance balloon in the Atlantic Ocean, some six miles away from the US shores in South Carolina.

US President Joe Biden on Saturday said he ordered the Pentagon to shoot down the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon as soon as possible when he was briefed on the matter. Biden spoke to media persons at a press gaggle after a US fighter jet shot down the Chinese balloon off the coast of South Carolina over what it called Beijing's "unacceptable violation" of American sovereignty.

US President Joe Biden speaks with members of the press.(AP)
US President Joe Biden speaks with members of the press.(AP)

Videos capture the moment US fighter jet shot down Chinese ‘spy’ balloon

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“On Wednesday, when I was briefed on the balloon, I ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down, on Wednesday, as soon as possible. They decided without doing damage to anyone on the ground. They decided that the best time to do that was as it got over water, outside — within the 12-mile limit,” Biden told reporters in Maryland.

“They successfully took it down. And I want to compliment our aviators who did it. And we’ll have more to report on this a little later,” he said.

China said it’s “strongly” discontented with the US downing of its balloon and reserves the right for any necessary reaction to the incident.

The use of force against the balloon, which China said is for civilian use and entered the US accidentally, was an “obvious overreaction” and violated international standard practices, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

When asked about what was the recommendation from the security officials, he said, “They said to me, 'Let’s wait till the safest place to do it.'”

The balloon triggered a diplomatic maelstrom, with US state secretary Antony Blinken cancelling his trip to Beijing scheduled for next week. China had insisted that the balloon was just an errant civilian airship used mainly for meteorological research and deviated from its course due to winds and “limited steering” capability. The Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement that Beijing "regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace."

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