US President Joe Biden has defended his reaction to the flight of the Chinese surveillance balloon allegedly used for espionage purposes over US territory. “I have instructed the military to shoot him down safely,” Biden said in an interview on PBC’s Newshour evening show on Wednesday local time.
He was told by the military that it was not safe to launch the balloon over land and that one could learn a lot by observing the overflight. “As soon as they had a chance to shoot it down over the water, they did it and salvaged key pieces of it,” Biden said. Democrat Biden had been sharply criticized by prominent US Republicans for his handling of the incident.
The governor of the southern US state of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, accused Biden of a lack of leadership. “The President’s refusal to stand up to China, our strongest adversary, is dangerous and unacceptable,” Republican and former spokeswoman for ex-President Donald Trump said Tuesday night after Biden’s State of the Union address in Congress. Biden is not ready to “defend our borders, our airspace and our people”. He was unsuitable as commander-in-chief.
When asked in the interview whether US-China relations had suffered a major blow from the downing, Biden replied with a resounding “no”. He can say this with certainty because the two countries are in exchange with each other. Biden reiterated that the US competes with China but does not seek conflict.
The US military shot down the Chinese balloon off the coast of the state of South Carolina over the Atlantic. Washington accuses China of using the balloon to spy on military installations. The government in Beijing, on the other hand, spoke of a civilian research balloon that had gone off course. She accused the US of “overreacting” and “seriously violating” international rules.