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US shoots down Chinese balloon over sea, moves to retrieve debris

US shoots down Chinese balloon over sea, moves to retrieve debris

WASHINGTON (AP) – The United States on Saturday shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast after it crossed sensitive military sites in North America and became the latest flashpoint of tension between Washington and Beijing.

An operation was underway in US territorial waters in the Atlantic Ocean to recover debris from the balloon, which was flying at approximately 60,000 feet and was estimated to be the size of three school buses.

When asked about the balloon, President Joe Biden told reporters earlier on Saturday that “we’re going to take care of it.” The Federal Aviation Administration and Coast Guard worked to clear the airspace and water below the balloon as it reached the ocean.

Television footage showed a small explosion, after which the balloon descended towards the water. US military jets were seen flying in the vicinity and ships were deployed in the water to carry out rescue operations.

Officials were aiming to time the operation so that they could recover as much debris as possible before it sank into the sea. The Pentagon had previously estimated that any debris field would be sufficient.

The balloon was spotted over the Carolinas on Saturday morning as it approached the coast. In preparation for the operation, the FAA administration temporarily closed airspace along the Carolina coastline, including airports in Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina. The FAA rerouted air traffic from the area and warned of delays as a result of the flight restrictions.

The Coast Guard advised boaters to leave the area immediately due to US military operations “that present a significant threat”.

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Biden was inclined to jettison the balloon when he was first informed about it on Tuesday, but Pentagon officials advised against it, warning that the potential risk to people on the ground was a potential Chinese threat. Intelligence is more than an assessment of profit.

This week’s public disclosure of the balloon inspired cancel a trip by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken scheduled for Beijing on Sunday for talks aimed at reducing US-China tensions. The Chinese government tried to cancel Saturday.

“In fact, the US and China have never announced any visit, any such announcement is the US’s own business and we respect that,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday morning.

China continues to claim that the balloon was merely a weather research “airship” that was blown up. The Pentagon rejected this – as well as China’s argument that it was not being used for surveillance and had only limited navigational capability.

the balloon was seen on montanaWhich is home to one of three US nuclear missile silo areas at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

The Pentagon also acknowledged reports of a second balloon flying over Latin America. “We now assess that this is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Brig. Pentagon Press Secretary General Pat Ryder said in a statement.

China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a question about the second balloon.

Blinken, who was scheduled to leave for Beijing from Washington late Friday, said he told senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi in a phone call that sending the balloon over the US was “an irresponsible act and that (China) ka) The decision to take this action on the eve of my visit is detrimental to the important discussions we were prepared to have.

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Uncensored responses on the Chinese Internet reflected the official government stance that the US was over-representing the situation. Some call it the U.S. Used as an opportunity to poke fun at the security, saying it couldn’t even defend against a balloon, and nationalist influencers criticized the U.S.

China has denied any claims of espionage and said it was a civilian use balloon for meteorological research. The Ministry of External Affairs emphasized that the balloon’s journey was beyond its control and urged the US not to “smear” it on the basis of the balloons.


By Zeke Miller, Michael Balsamo, Colleen Long, and Amer Madhani. Associated Press writer Huizhong Wu in Taipei and Researcher Henry Hou in Beijing contributed to this report.

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