US President Joe Biden has publicly responded for the first time to news of the Chinese spy balloon flying high above US territory for several days. “We’ll take care of it,” he replied when asked if the balloon would be brought down, without going into further details.
The US sees the alleged spy balloon that is now over North Carolina as a violation of US airspace. China regrets the incident and says the balloon went off course due to force majeure. The airship, as Beijing calls it, would be mainly intended for meteorological purposes, but according to Washington, the balloon contains all kinds of surveillance equipment.
After the discovery last week, it was considered to shoot down the balloon, the size of three canisters and with a considerable weight. Biden has taken the advice not to. Debris could cause damage on the ground.
ABC News now reports some change in American attitudes. The balloon would float from North Carolina towards the Atlantic Ocean. “The current thinking is to wait until the balloon is over the Atlantic, to bring it down and fish it out. Then it can be studied and it can be checked what technology is on board,” said the medium, which is based on “a senior American official who is aware of the situation”. The AP news agency reports the same.
Read also: The return of the spy balloon: ‘China is busy on all fronts to obtain information’
Foreign Minister Antony Blinken has postponed his planned visit to China because the issue would determine the dialogue between the two world powers too much. China says it has strictly adhered to international rules. In a telephone conversation with Blinken, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi discussed “how to handle unintentional incidents calmly and professionally.”
The Pentagon reported early this morning Dutch time that a Chinese balloon had also been sighted over Latin America.
China expressed regret that an “airship” used for
civilian meteorological and other scientific purposes
strayed into US airspace. China’s foreign ministry said on
Saturday that the flight of the “airship” over the United States
was a force majeure accident, accusing US politicians and
media of taking advantage of the situation to discredit China.
The Pentagon said on Friday that another Chinese balloon was
observed about Latin America, without saying where exactly.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by Diane Bartz; Editing by
Daniel Wallis and Marguerita Choy)
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