Alleged espionage: China angered by balloon launch

Status: 05.02.2023 06:33

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has expressed its anger at the United States after a suspected Chinese spy balloon was shot down off the coast of the US state of South Carolina. But President Biden is also receiving criticism in his own country.

By Ralf Borchard, ARD Studio Washington

Shortly after the balloon flew over the South Carolina coast and reached open sea, it was shot down by a US warplane missile. Immediately after the launch, the videos of eyewitnesses on the Internet showed how the damaged white balloon sank towards the surface of the water in an almost cloudless sky.

Shortly thereafter, US President Joe Biden confirmed the launch and emphasized that he had given the order several days ago: “On Wednesday, when I was informed about the balloon, I instructed the Pentagon to shoot it down as soon as possible,” so Biden. The decision was made to first shoot down the object over the Atlantic in order to avoid possible damage to people on the ground, emphasized the President.

Recovery of the debris in shallow coastal waters

Immediately after the shooting down, US forces began recovering debris from the relatively shallow coastal waters. These should be examined carefully. The US hopes to shed light on the precise technical capabilities of the Chinese balloon.

In the first reactions, Republican politicians stuck to their criticism that President Biden acted too late and indecisively: “I think it should never have come to this point,” said Russel Fry, Republican congressman from South Carolina on Fox News television. “We should have shot down the balloon before it entered our airspace.”

“Recover as quickly as possible”, Gudrun Engel, ARD Washington, on the suspected espionage balloon that was shot down

tagesschau24 9:45 p.m., 4.2.2023

Blinken wants to keep channels of communication open

Democratic MP Adam Smith from the state of Washington emphasized that further decisive action against China is now important. China is acting like a ruthless bully. We must work together with other countries to counter deter China without starting an actual war with China,” he said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had emphasized that he would keep the channels of communication open with Beijing and that he would make up for his initially canceled visit to China as soon as circumstances permitted.

Sharp criticism from China

China reacted with sharp criticism to the shooting down of the balloon by the USA. The US has clearly overreacted and violated international conventions by using force, and reserves the right to take any further action needed, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

At the same time, Colombia has confirmed information from the US Department of Defense that a second suspected Chinese balloon similar to the object now shot down over the United States has been sighted over South America.

After the US shot down the Chinese balloon

Ralf Borchard, ARD Washington, February 5, 2023 5:54 a.m

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