Pictured: A Chinese spy balloon allegedly floated into the sea after being shot down off the coast of Surfside Beach, South Carolina, U.S. February 4, 2023. (REUTERS/RANDALL HILL)
Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – Relations between China and the United States have escalated after a US military fighter jet shot down a suspected spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday (4/2/2023) local time.
China reacted to and strongly condemned the military attack on an aircraft it said was used for meteorological and other scientific purposes. According to them, the device had strayed into US airspace.
“China clearly requests the US to properly handle this in a calm, professional and controlled manner,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “The US insists on using force, clearly overreacting,” he said, quoted from ReutersMonday (6/2/2023)
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden said he had issued orders Wednesday to take down the balloons, but the Pentagon had recommended waiting until that could be done in open water to protect civilians from falling debris.
“They got it down, and I want to applaud our aviators who did,” Biden said.
Several fighters and refuelers were involved in the mission, but only one F-22 fighter jet from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia fired at using a single AIM-9X supersonic, heat-seeking missile.
The balloon was shot down about six nautical miles off the US coast in the Atlantic Ocean, over relatively shallow water. A US military official said that debris was spread across seven miles of ocean and that several US military vessels were in the area.
The shooting also increased mutual suspicion over the issue of growing espionage activities in the US. Biden is likely to continue to face intense political scrutiny from Republican opponents in Congress who argue he failed to act quickly enough.
A senior official said after shooting down the balloon, the US government spoke directly to China about the move. The State Department also briefs allies and partners around the world, the official said.
Questions remain about how much information China might have gathered during the balloon ride across the United States.
The balloon entered US airspace over Alaska on January 28 before moving into Canadian airspace on January 30. It then reentered US airspace over northern Idaho on January 31, a US defense official said. After crossing the US mainland, it does not return to open water, making shooting difficult.