Concerns Arise Over Chinese ‘Spy’ Balloon

U.S military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the East coast near the Carolinas, on Saturday, February 4th. The balloon is suspected to have been a Chinese surveillance airship that has been flying over the US for days now.

On Tuesday, February 7th, the US Navy released photos of the recovered parts of the balloon. Sailors from the Navy explosive disposal team are seen taking the debris out of the ocean and onto a boat in the photos. According to CNN, the remaining pieces will be taken to FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia for further analysis.

“From a safety standpoint, picture yourself with large debris weighing hundreds if not thousands of pounds falling out of the sky,” Commander of US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, General Glen VanHerck, said.

As the U.S and China face tensions already through trade, citizens raise questions and concerns over how and why this airship was allowed to fly into the U.S into the first place. According to CNN, President Joe Biden insisted that he had asked for the vessel to be shot down but was told by national security team officials to wait until it entered U.S land.

“I told them to shoot it down on Wednesday, but they said to me, ‘let’s wait for the safest place to do it,’” Biden said.

U.S citizens and officials say that the balloon was used for surveillance purposes, but China insists the balloon was a “civilian unmanned airship” and that it was conducting weather research before it was shot down.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Mao Ning, emphasized that the balloon went off course its flight path due to weather conditions, and that other Chinese vessels have experienced the same issues.

“What I want to emphasize regarding this unexpected accident is that both sides, especially the U.S., should remain calm,” Ning said.

After it was shot down on Saturday afternoon by U.S fighter aircraft off the coast of South Carolina, U.S Navy vessels “swarmed” the area of debris with divers and cranes to retrieve any pieces left behind. According to the White House spokesperson, John Kirby, the balloon was estimated to be about “15 football fields by 15 football fields.”

“Our efforts to surveil this balloon and what we’re going to learn from the recovery will prove to be valuable,” Kirby said.

China urges both countries to stay calm during this misunderstanding.

“China is a responsible country, we have always strictly abided by international law,” Mao Ning said. “We have informed all relevant parties and appropriately handled the situation, which did not pose any threats to any countries.”

After further investigation, US officials determined that the balloon had no significant threat against gathering information.