The Chinese spy balloon shot down over US waters in the Atlantic Ocean off South Carolina on Saturday was not the only one to enter US airspace in the past six years. At least three others have moved in during Republican Donald Trump’s tenure, according to the Pentagon. That statement added fuel to the fire to add a heated exchange of allegations between Democrats and Republicans over how the demolition was handled.
This Sunday, US Navy divers searched for the fragments of the collapsed balloon in an area eleven kilometers wide and fourteen meters deep off the coast of Horry County, South Carolina. Unmanned boats that can descend will also be used to salvage the structure and rebuild it on the rescue ship,” an official told CNN television. The Pentagon anticipates that it will be a relatively easy operation and that it won’t take long.
The arrival of the balloon and its downing by a missile fired from an F-22 fighter in US territorial waters in the Atlantic on Saturday has sparked a new diplomatic crisis between the US and China. Beijing, which asserts it was a civilian meteorological “vessel” that was lost to force majeure, described the military action as an “exaggerated response.” The United States insists it was a device with espionage capabilities that was carrying surveillance gear.
The case has also caused a stir in sharply divided US politics. It comes at a crucial time: On Tuesday, on the most solemn occasion of the legislative year, Biden will appear before both houses of Congress to deliver his State of the Union address, in which he will outline his government priorities for the year. He is also expected to officially announce in a few weeks whether he will stand for re-election in the 2024 presidential election.
Perhaps along the lines of Republican critics, who have accused the White House of weakness in handling the incident all week, Biden, the Pentagon and other senior government officials have stressed that the president has already given orders to destroy the device. as soon as possible”. But it had to be done without endangering the population. So the balloon, which was first spotted in Alaska on January 28, was hovering over Montana. The recommendation he received was to wait until The artefact reached the Atlantic Ocean Due to its size, site altitude (18,300 meters) and volume of cargo, even in one of the most sparsely populated states in the USA, the risk that its fragments could fall on the population or leave property damage in the country was too great.
The Republican opposition has criticized the government’s response to the raid. In his opinion, the balloon should have been launched much earlier, rather than being allowed to hover over US airspace for five days at the risk of gathering valuable intelligence.
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“It should never have been allowed to enter the United States and it should never have been allowed to carry out its mission,” Mike Turner, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told NBC Television. Senate Intelligence Committee lawmaker Tom Cotton advised the Fox network that “we should have shot him down while he was traveling through the Aleutian Islands[in Alaska]instead of letting him wander halfway across the United States so happily.” Florida Senator Marco Rubio, speaking to CNN, said the case represented “a neglect of duty” by the government.
The Department of Defense, on the other hand, has congratulated itself on the success of the demolition mission and, through its director Lloyd Austin, has assured that the option chosen is the best to ensure the safety of the people on the mainland. A senior military commander, who spoke to the press on condition of anonymity, stated that “the spy balloon’s passage over US territory was valuable” in gathering intelligence data on its operations. “We were able to study and examine the balloon and its equipment, which was very valuable.”
The Pentagon has stressed that this is not the first time a Chinese device of this type has entered US territory in recent years. China, he claims, maintains a fleet of these devices, which have been spotted in countries on five continents: one spotted in Latin America this week hovered over Colombia on Sunday. The aforementioned military high command said on Saturday that three balloons “passed briefly through US airspace during the tenure of the previous administration, led by Donald Trump.”
The outgoing President has flatly denied this. China has “too much respect” for him to take such a step and “never did it,” he assured on his social network Truth Social. “The Chinese balloon thing is a disgrace, as is the Afghanistan horror show and everything surrounding the vastly incompetent Biden administration,” he said. “Now they are releasing that China sent a balloon during the Trump administration to steer Biden’s slow-moving fools out of the limelight.” His former Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, has also dismissed the Pentagon’s claim.
Democratic lawmakers have rushed to defend the White House. “Setting another standard for Biden when Trump appears to be letting that drag across the United States is a bit hypocritical,” said Senator Cory Booker, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Senate Democratic Majority Leader Charles Schumer has announced that the Pentagon will offer a briefing to the House of Lords this week, on the 15th, on the balloon’s incursion.
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