News   /   IN-DEPTH   /   Foreign Policy   /   China   /   More   /   Editor's Choice

Chinese Weather balloon shot down by US Air Force Fighter jet

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Flag and Bald Eagle

The journey of a Chinese “weather balloon” across the United States, which has now been shot down by a highly advanced US fighter jet, had gripped the world's attention.

On Friday, the US military said it had mobilized fighter jets but advised President Joe Biden against shooting the balloon out of the sky for fear debris could pose a safety threat.

US authorities said the military took custody of the balloon when it entered America's airspace.

On Saturday, however, the US Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, said the balloon, which was allegedly being used by China in an attempt to surveil the strategic locations in the continental United States, was brought down above US territorial waters.

The Pentagon also decried what it called China's unacceptable violation of US airspace.

China has expressed regret blaming unfavorable winds for pushing what it calls a "civilian airship" into US airspace.

Beijing insists that the balloon, which was being used for meteorological purposes, unintentionally veered off into us airspace.

The incident prompted US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to issue a personal note to his Chinese counterpart condemning Beijing's move.

China's decision to fly a surveillance balloon over the continental United States is both unacceptable and irresponsible. That's what this is about. It's a violation of our sovereignty. It's a violation of international law.

US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken

Blinken further added that the US remains committed to diplomatic engagement with China and that he will travel to Beijing once conditions are favorable.

Some White House allies say postponing Blinken's trip was an overreaction to the incident, particularly because US officials have said that they do not think the balloon was able to gather information that cannot be acquired in other ways, such as spy satellites.

In a phone call with his American counterpart, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China and the United States should handle occasional individual cases in a common professional manner.

Wang stressed that China has always strictly abided by international laws, and will not accept any groundless conjecture or hype. In the face of unexpected situations, what both sides should do is to maintain steadiness, communicate in time to avoid misjudgment, and manage differences.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon said that a second, and similar, balloon has been detected flying over Latin America. Beijing has already denied the US accusation of spying and accuses US media and politicians of using the recent balloon incident as a pretext to launch a smear campaign against Beijing.

The US allegation of a suspected spy balloon flying in the sky of Montana has added to concerns that the already heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing would further escalate.

Although balloons are a powerful potential surveillance tool, it is odd that Beijing would do something this provocative just before a key US diplomatic trip, especially since China has been pushing to repair relations with the United States post pandemic.

Some in the USA are of a mind that it is very likely that China has been using this technique for a while and that the United States was aware of this, but, for diplomatic reasons, Washington chose not to respond.

A US Defense Department spokesperson confirmed that such intrusions have happened before saying it is not the first time that you had a balloon of this nature across over the continental United States.

This has happened on a handful of other occasions over the past few years long before the current administration came into power.

Some believe that the United States is spending a large budget on creating unnecessary hostility with China.

Others reason that the tensions have flared up in recent years between the two with Biden declaring that China is America's most consequential geopolitical challenge and that competition between the two global superpowers is intense.

After all, Washington and Beijing are already at loggerheads over a host of issues which include tensions over Taiwan.

President Biden has antagonized top Chinese officials by saying on several occasions that the United States would defend Taiwan if China attacked the self ruled Island.

A close ally of the administration said that, although White House officials have walked back those statements, Biden is intentionally sending a message to China when he makes such pronouncements.

But tensions between Washington and Beijing are not limited to just that issue.

The two powers have deep differences on other issues as well, for instance, the economic war between the United States and China with the two countries having imposed high tariffs on each other's goods.

The US presence in the South China Sea also adds to concerns that Washington and Beijing would be facing each other militarily. Under the current situation one small excuse would be enough for the whole world to be plunged into another world war.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku