The U.S. is in a heated debate over a potential plan to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon that has been spotted flying over North and South Carolina. What started as a mystery in the sky has now become a major international incident with the U.S. and China clashing over sovereignty, security, and respect.
The Federal Aviation Administration ordered a ground stop at three airports and closed airspace in parts of North and South Carolina effective until 2:45 E.T., citing “national security initiatives” in the area. President Biden addressed the balloon briefly Saturday in response to a reporter’s question, saying, “we’re going to take care of it.”
The balloon was most recently seen flying over the southeastern United States Saturday, spotted in parts of North and South Carolina as it made its way toward the Atlantic coast. China’s foreign ministry acknowledged the balloon was Chinese, claiming it was a civilian weather aircraft that had blown off course. Senior State Department officials disputed that claim, identifying it as Chinese surveillance craft and calling its presence in U.S. airspace an “unacceptable” violation of American sovereignty.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken indefinitely postponed a planned trip to China to meet with President Xi Jinping because of the incident and called China’s actions “irresponsible” in a phone call with his counterpart Wang Yi on Friday. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs downplayed Blinken’s decision to cancel the trip even as diplomatic relations have tensed after the incident. The Pentagon has also acknowledged reports of a second balloon flying over Latin America.
Biden was briefed on the situation earlier this week and had asked for military options to take the balloon down. But Pentagon officials advised against shooting it down over the continental United States, cautioning that falling debris could put American civilians and infrastructure on the ground in danger.
The U.S. and China are now in a heated debate over a potential plan to shoot down the Chinese spy balloon. What started as a mystery in the sky has now become a major international incident with the U.S. and China clashing over sovereignty, security, and respect. It remains to be seen how the situation will be resolved, but one thing is certain: this is a story that is far from over.