the bongino report

China Issues Threats After U.S. Shoots Down Spy Balloon

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military on Saturday shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast after it traversed sensitive military sites across North America. China claimed the flyover was an accident that involved a civilian aircraft, and threatened legal action.

President Joe Biden gave the order, but wanted the balloon to be downed earlier than Wednesday. U.S. officials advised him that it would be best to conduct the operation when the balloon was above water. According to military officials, bringing the aircraft down from a height of 60,000 feet onto land would pose an undue threat to anyone on the ground.

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China replied that it reserves the right to “take further actions” And criticized the U.S. “an obvious overreaction and a serious violation of international practice.”

In its statement Sunday, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that “China will resolutely uphold the relevant company’s legitimate rights and interests, and at the same time reserving the right to take further actions in response.”

This week’s presence of the balloon above the U.S. caused a serious blow to already strained relations between the U.S. and China, which have been in a downward spiral since years. It caused an outcry. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State It was necessary to cancel an important Beijing trip that was intended to ease tensions.

“They successfully took it down and I want to compliment our aviators who did it,” Biden spoke after getting off Air Force One, en route to Camp David.

The huge white orb, which was about 6 nautical miles from the Atlantic coast, was observed over the Carolinas on Saturday morning. An F-22 fighter jet launched a missile at it, puncturing the balloon about 6 nautical mile off the coast of Myrtle Beach in South Carolina.

Americans looked up at the sky for the mystery balloon, and wondered if it had sailed over them.

On Saturday, Ashlyn Preaux, 33, went out to get her mail in Forestbrook, South Carolina, and noticed her neighbors looking up — and there it was, the balloon in the cloudless blue sky. She saw fighter jets flying overhead and the balloon was hit.

“I did not anticipate waking up to be in a ‘Top Gun’ movie today,” She spoke.

The debris fell into 47 feet of water, which was lower than officials expected. It spread out over approximately seven miles. There were several ships involved in the recovery operation. Officials predicted that the recovery efforts could be completed within a matter of days and not weeks. A salvage vessel was already on the way.

U.S. military and defense officials stated Saturday that the balloon had entered the U.S. Air Defense Zone north of the Aleutian Islands Jan. 28. It then moved over land through Alaska, and then into Canadian airspace in Canada’s Northwest Territories on Monday. It returned to the U.S. territory in northern Idaho on Tuesday after being briefed by the White House.

The balloon It was seen Thursday in MontanaMalmstrom Air Force Base in Malmstrom, where you will find nuclear missile silos.

According to two senior defense officials, the Americans were able collect intelligence about the balloon while it flew above the United States. This gave them several days to examine it and discover how it moved. Under strict anonymity, the officials gave briefings to reporters.

The officials said the U.S. military was constantly assessing the threat, and concluded that the technology on the balloon didn’t give the Chinese significant intelligence beyond what it could already obtain from satellites, though the U.S. took steps to mitigate what information it could gather as it moved along.

Republicans were critical of Biden’s response.

“Allowing a spy balloon from the Communist Party of China to travel across the entire continental United States before contesting its presence is a disastrous projection of weakness by the White House,” Roger Wicker (Mississippi Senator), is the top Republican on Senate Armed Services Committee.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) tweeted: “Now that this embarrassing episode is over, we need answers from the Biden Administration on the decision-making process. Communist China was allowed to violate American sovereignty unimpeded for days. We must be better prepared for future provocations and incursions by the CCP.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham R-S.C. was more positive “Thank you to the men and women of the United States military who were responsible for completing the mission to shoot down the Chinese surveillance balloon. The Biden Administration did the right thing in bringing it down.”

China claims that the balloon was just a weather research instrument “airship” That was a mistake. The Pentagon rejected that out of hand — as well as China’s contention that it was not being used for surveillance and had only limited navigational ability.

The Chinese government on Saturday sought to play down the cancellation of Blinken’s trip. “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.

According to reports, a second balloon was also seen flying over Latin America by the Pentagon. “We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Brig. In a statement, Gen. Pat Ryder (Panel Press Secretary) said. Officials stated that the balloons are part a Chinese surveillance fleet and can be controlled remotely using small motors or propellers. One official stated that the balloons carry equipment not normally associated with civilian research or meteorological activities.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a question about the second balloon.

This isn’t the first time Chinese spy balloons have crossed into U.S. airspace in recent years, one of the officials said. At least three times during the Trump administration and at least one other time during Biden’s time as president they’ve seen balloons cross, but not for this long, the official said.

Blinken, who was due to leave Washington for Beijing on Friday night, stated that he had spoken to Wang Yi, a senior Chinese diplomat, in a telephone call, about sending the balloon above the U.S. “an irresponsible act and that (China’s) decision to take this action on the eve of my visit is detrimental to the substantive discussions that we were prepared to have.”

Uncensored responses to the Chinese internet mirror the official U.S. government position that it was hyper-hyping the situation. Some used it as a chance to poke fun at U.S. defenses, saying it couldn’t even defend against a balloon, and nationalist influencers leaped to use the news to mock the U.S.

China denied spying claims and claimed that the balloon was a civilian-use balloon for meteorology research. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized that the balloon’s journey was out of its control and urged the U.S. not to “smear” It was the balloon.

The Federal Aviation Administration temporarily closed the airspace above the Carolina coast in preparation for Saturday’s operation. This included the airports at Myrtle Beach, Charleston, South Carolina and Wilmington, North Carolina. The FAA directed air traffic away from the area and warned that there could be delays due to flight restrictions. As the balloon reached the ocean, the Coast Guard and FAA cleared the airspace below it.

Television footage showed a small explosion followed by the balloon’s giant deflated mass falling like a ribbon towards the water.

Bill Swanson stated that the balloon deflated instantly from his Myrtle Beach home as fighter jets circled.

“When it deflated it was pretty close to instantaneous,” He said. “One second it’s there like a tiny moon and the next second it’s gone.” Swanson also said that smoke trails followed the balloon’s descent.

___

Chris Megerian from Hagerstown, Md.This report was contributed by Henry Hou, a Beijing researcher, and Tara Copp, Mary Clare Jalonick, in Washington.


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